Perspective: Be The Nation Worth This Struggle

6 hours ago
Nick Bolton / Unsplash

It is always important to use words precisely, but never more than now. One hears terms such as social distance, self-isolation, just plain isolation, communication, and loneliness. It is imperative to use such terms precisely.

Yes, we must maintain social distance for now. Some of us must self-quarantine. But still there must be communication. Public officials must communicate with us. Businesses must communicate. Absolutely, we must continue to communicate with each other.

Something To Smile About

8 hours ago
Amy Nelson


 An Aurora photographer is capturing sunshine in the city by adopting a project that started in Boston.  

Amy Nelson said a friend told her she should participate in the Front Steps Project. This project was started by Cara Soulia and Kristen Collins. Soulia is a Boston photographer who decided to take pictures of people sitting on their front steps. Photographers across the nation joined in.

state of Illinois live stream

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports 899 new cases of COVID-19 and 31 more deaths attributed to the coronavirus as of April 5. That brings the total in Illinois to 274 people who have died and 11,256 who have tested positive.

Rockford Police Department

A Rockford police officer has tested positive and is recovering at home in self-isolation. In a news release, the Rockford Police Department says it was notified Thursday, April 2, that an officer tested positive for coronavirus disease. No other information is being released about the officer or the circumstances surrounding the testing or delay in announcing the diagnosis.

In the news release, police chief Dan O'Shea said, “Our people are our best asset and we will do anything and everything we can to keep them safe.” 

Illinois Dept. of Public Health

Illinois has now surpassed 10,000 cases of COVID-19. Saturday, Boone County reported its first two cases.

Campaigning During COVID-19

Apr 3, 2020

In light of the statewide shelter-in-place order and the new guidelines on social distancing from the White House, a number of Illinois 2020 congressional campaigns have changed their methods for connecting and reaching out to the public.

Jim Oberweis, the Republican challenger in Illinois’ 14th district described the massive change the pandemic brought to his campaign.

Rockford is getting not just one, but two poets laureate -- an adult and a youth.

The adult poet laureate position will be a two-year position, and probably one year long for the youth. Rockford Area Arts Council (RAAC) Executive Director Mary McNamara Bernsten said the committee is still working that out. But, she said, people may start nominating poets next week.


Northern Illinois University's Holmes Student Center will serve as a primary alternative housing site. According to a release from the DeKalb County Health Department, initial experience with COVID-19 infections in Illinois demonstrated a need to provide alternative housing for those who are awaiting test results or have tested positive and do not have another way to appropriately isolate or quarantine (i.e. family members or friends who can assist in alternative housing arrangements).   

  On this episode, we hear from a man who has turned his fight with the coronavirus disease into an essay from his hospital room.  

We'll also hear how the state's manufacturers are switching gears to help with the COVID-19 response.  And when tipped workers lose their source of income, some turn to sex work, both in-person and digital.  

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide.

Our lineup:

John Zuber

On this week’s show: John Zuber. He talked with host Peter Medlin about teaching in the time of coronavirus. John is particularly fascinated by how it’s impacted his relationships with his students. He thinks so far doing classes online from his couch while traversing technical difficulties has made them more casual and maybe more personable.


Perspective: What's Scarier Than A Pandemic?

Apr 3, 2020
Pixabay + Pixlr

I open my mailbox with a cleaning wipe.

I wipe down the mail and then smother my hands with sanitizer.

Welcome to my new normal — being abnormal … during this pandemic.

My county has only a few positive cases of COVID-19. But experts say numbers are deceiving and I should not feel safe. It’s most likely here … surrounding me.

NIU Moves All Summer Courses Online

Apr 2, 2020

Northern Illinois University has moved all summer courses online instead of face-to-face. That’s because of continuing uncertainty regarding the extent of the State’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. NIU President Lisa Freeman and Provost Beth Ingram issued a joint statement Thursday. April 6 is the first day of registration for summer classes.


Winnebago County’s health administrator says residents can do better.

Sandra Martell held a news conference Thursday to provide an update on prevention efforts in the county.

She was joined by Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. Martell shared the results of a “social distancing” scoreboard.

"I’m disappointed," Martell said. "Winnebago County only has a B-. When you think about that, and I’m going to borrow a phrase from the mayor, ‘B’s get degrees,' but here, 'B’s may get disease.'”

DeKalb County Health Department

Members of a northern Illinois health department held a web event Wednesday to answer questions about COVID-19. 

The event, part of Northern Illinois University’s STEM Café series, was an opportunity for the DeKalb County Health Department and the DeKalb County State’s Attorney to address resident concerns. Officials emphasized the importance of social distancing, and offered clarity on county testing, isolation, emergency response and the risk of exposure. The Department’s director of community health and prevention, Cindy Graves, explained: 

The Show Must Go On

Apr 2, 2020

Social distancing is about keeping everyone safe but it also keeps us from enjoying large-scale public events. The City of Aurora is trying to work around that. It is practicing social distancing while still giving people a taste of a popular community event.

First Fridays in Aurora gives the community a chance to support local businesses, enjoy art, music and great food. It usually draws large crowds to the city’s downtown area. But this month’s event will be virtual. A full schedule of events will take place through social media on Friday, April 3, from 5-9 p.m.

Perspective: The Nature Of Worry

Apr 2, 2020
Annie Spratt / Unsplash

I have a beer bottle cap in the pocket of my spring coat that I worry with my thumb and forefinger. I’m not sure how long the bottle cap has been there. I find it with my fingers, and then I forget about it again. 


Safe Passage of DeKalb County is a domestic violence agency and rape crisis center. They started in 1981 after a group of women realized there were people in the community who needed a safe place to stay during the day and night.

Northern Illinois University

Universities across the state have canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester. But how do you learn acting, music or dance from home?

There’s no replacing the immediacy of live theatre. And there’s no replacing a live concert or recital.

But Alexander Gelman says it’s worth remembering that art’s greatest enemy can be a lack of limitations. He’s the head of Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre & Dance.

Angela Dolores Soule

Yesterday morning, Larry Eckhardt walked his final flag line. The marine veteran from Little York, Ill., known affectionately throughout the Midwest as “The Flag Man,” died at his home after a long battle with cancer. He was 63.   

Eckhardt served in the United States Marine Corp reserves and was employed at International Harvester as a machinist for 25 years. He became known as “The Flag Man” in 2005 when he started placing American flags along funeral routes for fallen veterans and first responders.

Perspective: Leadership In The Time Of Pandemic

Apr 1, 2020

In a few short weeks COVID-19 has come to grip the nation. Practically overnight we are uncomfortably settling into economic uncertainty, self-quarantining, online education, and accepting social distancing.

All the while, unfortunately, the leadership coming out of Washington is often contradictory, confused, and uncertain. It seems as though the most important message on the mind of the White House is how great of a job Mr. Trump is doing -- a dubious, self-righteous, point-missing affront to the grave urgency of the moment, a moment that grows exponentially more dire daily.

Connie Kuntz

People are doing what they can to stay healthy, but what about their pets? 

Dr. Phyllis Sill is a veterinarian at Roscoe Veterinary Clinic.  She says if you want to keep your dogs safe, there are certain things you shouldn't do: 

"Don’t let your dog suddenly go on a long run or a long walk if it hasn’t been conditioned to do so," she said. "They are probably going to end up with lameness issues or injuries." She continued, "Don’t get a group of dogs together, they might fight."

Note: This case is not yet reflected in the IDPH numbers.

The Winnebago County Health Department is reporting a death related to COVID-19. County Health Director Sandra Martell says the identity of the man is not being released, but he was in his 60s.  

“We would like to share a statement from the family: 'He was a husband, a son, a brother, and a friend,'” Martell said. “And I would like to add 'a member of our community.'”

Spencer Tritt

Illinois schools are using distance and e-learning until students can return to the classroom. Parents and educators are trying to meet the challenge of teaching students with special needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

Corena Steinmeyer is the director of the Lee County Special Education Association. It serves just over 500 special ed students in Dixon as well as the Paw Paw School District.

Steinmeyer says one of the Association’s biggest jobs in the current situation has been communicating with parents and giving them options on how to meet their kids’ needs from home.

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University is adjusting student bills to reflect the social distancing measures implemented due to COVID-19. These measures include having students take remote classes and a reduction of services on campus due to less staff physically present.

Want To Donate Blood And Have Questions?

Mar 31, 2020

With blood drives being canceled due to coronavirus, blood centers are looking for volunteers to step up. WNIJ Correspondent Jason Cregier recently answered the call and brought his microphone along.

The Rock River Valley Blood Center is also encouraging donors to schedule appointments. According to their website, the blood industry has seen more than 12,000 blood drives canceled across the nation, resulting in an estimated 355,000 fewer blood donations.

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory / NOAA

I imagine there’s an unwritten law in public radio not to talk about astrology, at least in any serious way, but in these trying times maybe there’s an exception.


So I checked in with my favorite stargazer, Rob Brezsny. I have followed his “Freewill Astrology” forecasts, periodically, for many years. His is a whimsical approach, full of anecdotes and mythological references, lighthearted but insightful.



In-person mental health services are being scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some groups are making a transition to telemedicine to compensate.  

When it comes to therapy and psychiatric care, telemedicine isn’t new. It involves a videoconference or phone call between patient and caregiver.  It has proven useful in rural areas, where it may not be feasible for the patient to make regular trips to the doctor in a faraway city or town. 

Perspective: Physically Distant, Socially Together

Mar 30, 2020

Stay six feet apart. Don’t leave home except for groceries and essentials. Don’t go to the playground and don’t go visit your neighbors. Spray all the doorknobs with Lysol every hour. This is all excellent advice for keeping your body healthy. It isn’t such a great way to nurture your soul.

Bob Myers

Someday, the COVID-19 pandemic will be history. And that’s why one DeKalb County photographer is urging people to document it now.

Bob Myers took his wife’s advice. She’s DeKalb County historian Sue Breese, and she encouraged him to photograph the empty store shelves, the empty parking lots, and the altered daily interactions that are now part of life under the State’s “stay-at-home” order. In turn, Myers turned to social media to ask other DeKalb County residents to join the effort. For him, it’s important to keep the project local because it “makes it hit home more.”

An infant and a state employee are among the 13 deaths from COVID-19 reported Saturday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike fought back emotions during their daily news conference when announcing the most recent deaths. They also announced 465 new cases of coronavirus disease in the state.

Saturday marks one week since Illinois was put under a “stay at home” order. Gov. Pritzker encouraged people to continue to comply, and said that in doing so, they are saving lives by slowing the spread of the deadly virus.