Stories by paul caine

Delta Variant, Disinformation Lead to ICU Shortage in Southern Illinois

Hospitals in southern Illinois are facing a critical shortage of available ICU beds. (WTTW News)

Hospitals in parts of the state are facing a critical shortage of available beds in their intensive care units. The highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19, combined with low vaccination rates, has created an overwhelming situation for medical providers for the last month.

Bears Hoping to Bounce Back Against Bengals After Prime-Time Loss

(WTTW News graphic)

After losing to the Rams, how long will Bears coach Matt Nagy resist pressure to give rookie quarterback Justin Fields more playing time? Former Bears offensive lineman James “Big Cat” Williams give us his take on the opening day loss and Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

Lincoln Park Zoo Names Megan Ross as Next Leader

Current zoo director Dr. Megan Ross, Ph.D., has been selected to lead the venerable institution when current president and CEO Kevin Bell steps down at the end of the year. (Credit: Lisa Miller)

Dr. Megan Ross, an animal behavior specialist, joined the zoo as curator of birds in 2000 and will be the first woman to lead the zoo in its 153-year history.

Illinois Republicans Rail Against Democrat’s Latest Election Map

State lawmakers held the second special session of the summer. (WTTW News)

Democrats have submitted new redistricting maps. Maps are redrawn every 10 years after the census, but because of late census numbers, this year’s process has been more contentious than others. 

COVID-19 Vaccines for Young Children Expected by End of Year

In this file photo, family members wearing masks walk along the sidewalk in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Thursday, May 7, 2020.  (WTTW News)

As the highly infectious delta variant continues to spread rapidly throughout the country, more children are testing positive for COVID-19. Could the return of in-person learning trigger even more cases?

Babbling Bats May Shed Light on Language Development

Mother and pup of the bat species Saccopteryx bilineata. Similar to human infants, pups begin babbling at a young age as they develop language skills. (Courtesy Ahana Fernandez / Michael Stifter)

Babbling Baby Bats. Simulated Rats. The impressive memory of cuttlefish. And why, counter to popular belief, some key mental abilities appear to actually improve with aging. University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin returns to help us understand some of the latest science stories making headlines.

Big Vegas Gaming Operators Decline to Bet on a Chicago Casino

(stokpic / Pixabay)

This should have been the week when the long-awaited Chicago casino project finally got up and running. Monday was the initial deadline to submit proposals to develop the much vaunted project — but after few bidders appeared interested — the city pushed back the deadline to the end of October.

Chicago Afghan War Veterans Express Anger, Despair at Chaotic Withdrawal

On Wednesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley echoed President Biden’s comments that the administration didn’t think the Taliban takeover would happen so fast. (WTTW News via CNN )

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and chaotic withdrawal by U.S. forces are weighing heavily on the minds of veterans who fought in America’s longest war.

Refugee Agencies Scramble to Bring Afghan Allies to US

Chaos at the Kabul airport as people try to flee the country. (WTTW News via CNN)

Officials are trying to help Afghan allies who supported the American mission to leave the country as Taliban checkpoints spread across the country and its capital, Kabul. But how many Afghans can safely be evacuated and settled in the U.S.?

Are Vaccine Mandates the Answer to Lagging Rates Among Nursing Home Staff?

(WTTW News)

While 84% of nursing home residents in Illinois have received the COVID-19 vaccine, just 62% of the workers who care for them are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Millions of Americans Support Use of Force to Restore Trump to White House: Report

An American flag and Trump campaign flag fly at a Proud Boys rally ahead of the 2020 presidential election. (WTTW News via CNN)

An estimated 21 million Americans believe that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president and that Donald Trump should be restored to the White House by force, according to a new report from the University of Chicago. We discuss the findings with political science professor Robert Pape, who led the survey.

Vaccine Mandates on the Agenda for More and More Businesses

With the delta variant of the coronavirus raging across the country, President Joe Biden announced last week that his administration will require almost all federal employees to get vaccinated or face stringent testing protocols. (WTTW News)

More and more employers are now mandating vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of returning to the office. Among them are some of the largest and best-known corporations in the country, from Walmart to The Washington Post and Tyson Foods to Twitter.

Great Lakes Pollution Puts Plastic in All of Us

Nurdles found washed up on the beach at Dawlish Warren in Devon, England. (Partonez / Wikimedia Commons)

Each year, 22 million pounds of plastic finds its way into the Great Lakes – the source of potable water for more than 30 million Americans. We take a look at what can be done to limit plastic pollution.

Biles Was Right to Withdraw from Competition: US Olympic Team Doctor

Gymnast Simone Biles cheers on her teammates at the Tokyo Olympics. (Credit: NBC)

One of the leading doctors for the U.S. Olympic team says star gymnast Simone Biles was right to withdraw from competition after a bout of what gymnasts call the “twisties.” Dr. Mark Hutchinson joins us from Tokyo to share his impressions of the Games so far.

Global Shortage of Computer Chips Hits US Manufacturing

A global shortage of computer chips is causing major headaches for American manufacturers. (Jeremy Zero / Unsplash)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the disruption of supply chains and manufacturing the world over. Manufacturers of computer chips in Asia have been especially hard hit. And that means companies that make products that rely on such chips are feeling the pinch.

UChicago-Led Team Discovers Way to Dramatically Boost Crop Production

A photograph of rice plants in a study performed by a team from the University of Chicago. Researchers found that by adding a gene that encodes for a protein called FTO both rice and potato plants increased yields by 50%. (Courtesy of University of Chicago / Yu et. al.)

In a potentially world-changing discovery, scientists led by a team from the University of Chicago have discovered a way to manipulate RNA to dramatically boost crop production. 

Paralyzed Man’s Brain Waves Turned Into Computer Text

Researchers have developed technology that enabled a man unable to speak because of paralysis to communicate by translating his brain waves into text on a computer screen. (Courtesy of UC San Francisco)

Researchers have developed technology that enabled a man unable to speak because of paralysis to communicate by translating his brain waves into text on a computer screen. Rabiah Mayas of the Museum of Science and Industry has details on that story and others making headlines.

Study: Diaphragm Damage in COVID-19 Survivors Can Lead to Long-Term Symptoms

A patient performs COVID-19 rehabilitation exercises under medical supervision at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. (Courtesy of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab)

Many survivors of COVID-19 experience long-term symptoms including shortness of breath and fatigue. A new study finds damage to the lungs may not be the only cause.

Flamboyant Billionaire Branson Reaches the Edge of Space

On Sunday, July 11, 2021, Richard Branson became the first person to fly into space on a self-funded ship. (WTTW News via CNN)

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson on Sunday became the first billionaire to ride his own rocket ship to space. But beyond being the ultimate joyride for billionaires, will commercial space travel take off as an industry accessible to the rest of us?

Latinos Have Greater Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s, But Less Likely to Get Help

An image of the brain of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. (WTTW News)

The degenerative brain disease, for which there currently is no cure, takes a terrible toll on both patients and caregivers. By the year 2060, some 3.5 million Latinos are expected to be afflicted with the disease.

Anti-Violence Workers in Chicago Say More Resources Needed

Mayor Lori Lightfoot addresses Chicago’s violent holiday weekend on July 6, 2021. (WTTW News)

Following a violent holiday weekend in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said young people need to “put down the guns.” Community organizations fighting to stem the rising tide of violence talk about their efforts and the root causes of violence in the city.

Russian Researchers Revive Tiny Creatures Frozen for 24,000 Years

A magnified image of a rotifer (Bob Blaylock / Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers in Russia revive creatures frozen in Arctic permafrost for more than 20,000 years. A new vaccine for malaria. The powerful connection between music and memory. And how “laughing gas” is being used to treat severe depression.

Northern Illinois Farmers Facing Worst Drought in 30 Years

(Chris_LeBoutillier / Pixabay)

After record floods in 2019, northern Illinois farmers are now contending with severe drought. According to state data, this spring was the third driest on record — and those records go all the way back to 1871. Two area farmers join us to share their insights.

Fed Forecasts Strong Economic Growth, but Inflation Concerns Rise

(NikolayFrolochkin / Pixabay)

The Federal Reserve has revised its forecast for inflation this year, predicting that core inflation — which doesn’t include the cost of food or gas — could rise to 3.4% by the year’s end. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that while the economy is growing strongly, the U.S. is still down 7 million jobs.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Work with European Space Agency to Design ‘Moon Village’

A vision of what a permanent human presence on the moon could look like. (Credit: SOM / Slashcube GmbH)

The Chicago-based global architectural powerhouse designs everything from train stations to high-rises to airports. But it also has its sights set beyond Chicago — and even beyond Earth. We learn about a design for a lunar colony grounded in science fact rather than science fiction.

ProPublica Report Exposes Tax Strategies of America’s Super Rich

(Steve Buissinne / Pixabay)

A trove of leaked IRS tax returns analyzed by ProPublica reveals America’s richest billionaires — including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos — often pay little to no income tax.