Chase Cavanaugh


Chase started in radio while earning his Master's in diplomacy and international commerce at the University of Kentucky.  He was bitten by the radio bug while volunteering at Radio Eye (a local equivalent to NIRIS) and soon became a reporter at WUKY. After four years of reporting in Kentucky's Bluegrass, Chase traveled north to join WNIJ as Morning Edition producer.  Chase reports on a variety of developments in our broadcast area but is particularly drawn to anything with a political or international connection.  He is also an avid board gamer.

Northwestern Medicine is implementing new rules at its hospitals and clinics in response to the spread of COVID-19. 


Centers that treat addictions are adding social distancing to their services. At Remedies Renewing Lives in Rockford, this includes limiting the size of and spacing out in-person groups. Other measures include providing take-home medication and corresponding by phone with clients that are at risk for COVID-19. Counselor Cheryl Hollembeak notes social distancing doesn't mean isolation.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois says testing capacity for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is improving. Currently there is a two-to-three day turnaround time for test results. The tests are being carried out by three state labs, commercial and national labs, and several hospitals. Bustos says the quantity of test kits is improving rapidly.  

“The governor told me this morning that by Sunday of this week [March 22], we should be near full capacity as far as being able to get all the testing done that we need to.”

Secretary of State

Illinois Secretary of State offices, including those that deal with driver services, are closed until the end of the month due to the coronavirus outbreak. Secretary of State Jesse White says the expiration dates for drivers' licenses, plates, and other transactions will be extended by at least 30 days.  

Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Police are preparing for further action related to the coronavirus outbreak in the coming days and weeks.

This includes the transport of patients needing medical care, carrying medical supplies from the national stockpile, and coordination with the national guard. In a Wednesday press conference, ISP Director Brendan Kelly urged residents to abide by the restrictions on bars, restaurants, and public gatherings.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois is encouraging passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The measure was passed by the House Saturday. It currently awaits action in the Senate. Bustos says the act includes various forms of compensated time off for affected workers.  

“Two weeks of paid sick time for workers in small businesses. On top of that, we’ve got another 10 weeks of paid sick leave for the workers, and that impacts as many as 87 million workers," she said. 


Despite coronavirus-related shutdowns across Illinois, primary campaigns remain in full swing. 

The Illinois Primary election takes place Tuesday.  Campaigners for democratic presidential frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders say they’re still optimistic about turnout. Retired Senator John Kerry is a Biden campaign surrogate and praised Sunday night’s debate performance.

U.S. 16th District Representative Adam Kinzinger says maintaining health care capacity will be key in combating the coronavirus. 

President Trump declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon. That frees up $50 billion for states to address the crisis.  Congressman Kinzinger says this will help Illinois overall but a particular focus for the state will be ensuring there remains space in local health care systems to treat the most vulnerable patients.

Burpee Museum of Natural History

Fossils and dinosaurs will be the talk of the town in one part of Rockford this weekend.  

This is the Burpee Museum of Natural History’s 22nd annual PaleoFest.  The event brings paleontologists and their associates together to share their latest research with each other and the public. Joshua Matthews is Burpee’s Director of Paleontology. He said this gathering started in the 1990s in response to local interest and fossil finds.

DeKalb County Health Department

As the coronavirus spreads, local health departments and hospitals are monitoring the situation and making plans. 

To keep abreast of the situation, municipalities are in constant contact with their counterparts across the state. Lisa Gonzalez, Public Health Administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department, explains. 

“We have the Region 1 Health Departments which are the 9 counties in northwest Illinois, but we also work with Chicago region health departments and statewide health departments as well," she said. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Northwestern Medicine is celebrating the first anniversary of a program meant to be a bridge from a hospital stay to home.

NM started the Homeward Healing Swing Bed program at Valley West Hospital in Sandwich early in 2019. It allows patients who have finished receiving care for their immediate conditions to get additional rehabilitation treatment. This can range from physical therapy and wound care to IV and antibiotic treatment.

Chase Cavanaugh

As the Illinois primary election draws closer, college students are preparing to cast their votes. Some for the first time. As part of our series, "You're the Boss," we asked several NIU voters at campus voter registration events about their most important issues in the election, and what questions they would ask candidates and current officeholders directly if they had the chance.  Here's what they had to say:

Salvador Meza, electrical and computer engineering major, Chicago

Chase Cavanaugh

Coyotes dominated the conversation at a public meeting Tuesday in Rockford. Officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources discussed why coyotes are attracted to urban areas, and how to avoid attacks. Many residents expressed concern about the canines, but Conservation Policeman Nathan Murry said education is an important first step. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Kishwaukee College in Malta has many students who have or will reach voting age.  But education instructor Cynthia de Seife said some of these students had misconceptions.

“A while back, I was doing voter registration here at the college and some students were saying how they don’t vote, they don’t ever vote, their vote doesn’t count," she said. " And I thought, 'No. This is a college. No no no. This is not okay. We can do better than that.'”

Wikimedia Commons

The Copley Hospital campus in Aurora is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the first “purposefully-built” city hospital and dates back to 1888.

Rachel Barnhart is with MacRostie Historical Advisors and wrote the nomination. She said the building was important for the types of care it offered.

“The first part of Copley Hospital, now there was an option to give birth under medical supervision. And then also surgical operations could be conducted in the hospital as well," she said. 

Flickr user Miso Beno/ CC 2.0 Noncommercial

A bill in the State Senate aims to keep people with violent criminal histories from obtaining firearms.

State Senator Julie Morrison is sponsoring the legislation, which is part of Senate Bill 1966. She said a key aspect is closing gaps in the process of getting a Firearm Owners Identification, or FOID, card. 

Carey Cavanaugh

Trolls have lived in Morton Arboretum since the summer of 2018, but the gentle giants are moving out later this year.  

"Soybeans" by Flickr User Aerna's Mom / (CC x 2.0)

Illinois farm exports to China have suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that isn’t the only factor.

China is the world’s largest importer for products such as soybeans, which Illinois farmers produce in abundance.  The coronavirus outbreak has reduced demand, but economist Todd Hubbs at the University of Illinois said it’s been a recurring problem with the trade war.

Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth says there is a deep division in the country that does not help the political process.

She said President Trump’s State of the Union address didn’t make this any better. She also said Senator Romney didn’t exactly vote “against” the president.

Courtesy of the Forest Preserve of DuPage County

Recent encounters between coyotes and humans have put the canines in the public eye. We have details on why these animals seem to be popping up in more populated areas. 

Earlier this month, one animal was captured in Chicago and sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center, while another remained on the loose. Despite the extensive news coverage, one question still remains. What brought them downtown?

U.S. Department of Defense

Retired General David Petraeus will visit Illinois in October.

He’ll be the next speaker in the University's "World Leaders Forum."  2004 Judson alumnus Mark Vargas is also leading a Q&A at the event. Vargas said he met the General while working as part of an economic special task force in Iraq during the U.S.-led war. 

“General Petraeus was leading our coalition forces to clear and hold as part of our counterinsurgency strategy and then the civilian force would reopen factories and put Iraqis back to work,” Vargas said. 


A new grant will help researchers try to increase the survival rate for lung cancer.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford for lung cancer screening and research. Associate Professor Dr. Neelu Puri said it will pay for further research into treatment and expand the use of a technique called low-dose computed tomography.

Chase Cavanaugh

With more winter storms expected across Illinois, local and state authorities are working to clear the roads and respond to traffic accidents. 

Heavy snowfall can lead to labor like shoveling on driveways and sidewalks. For roads, local government steps in.  The City of Rockford has a fleet of more than 20 trucks for snow and ice removal. Staff are unionized, so they bid on routes. Public Works Director Kyle Saunders explained.

Northern Illinois University

A Northern Illinois University professor has tips on how being frugal can help in business.

Professor Tim Michaelis admits he lives quite frugally, and traces his habits back to his grandparents. This was especially evident when his grandfather examined the family earnings. 

“Working, he did the math and realized if he was just going to save 5-10% of his salary, he would not retire. Which was what they were telling people to do at the time. Just kind of through my childhood, I learned to be cautious and careful with resources," he said.


Some hospitals in Illinois are restricting visitors because of a spike in flu cases.

FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport reported 91 positive cases of flu this week, compared with three during the same time last year.  Based on recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health, it, like hospitals in similar situations, is limiting who can visit patients.  Nurse Margie Kochsmeir is the infection preventionist at FHN Memorial. She said measures also include removing potential gathering places for germs, such as magazines in the waiting room.

"Syringe and Vaccine" by Flickr User NIAID / (CC X 2.0)

The Illinois Department of Public Health says vaccination is an excellent defense against two prominent diseases. 

The first is Hepatitis A. This is a highly contagious liver disease that can cause symptoms such as fatigue, stomach pain, and jaundice. Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said the disease is widespread, and there’s been an outbreak in Illinois since September 2018.

“It has actually been nationwide, over 30 states, But in Illinois specifically, we’ve had 177 related cases, and one death associated with that," she said.

Starting next year, the Illinois Department of Labor will have a new way to address diversity in apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeship programs fall under the various building trades, such as electricians, ironworkers, bricklayers, and pipefitters. The Department’s Deputy Director, Jason Keller, said  a state law creates a new body in the Department as part of an effort to increase diversity in the trades.  It’s called the Bureau on Apprenticeship Programs.

Recreational cannabis sales will be legal in Illinois starting January 1st. This means anyone 21 years and older can buy from licensed sellers.

Democratic State Senator Steve Stadelman said the application process for these licenses includes measures meant to address social equity.

“When the law was passed, supporters were hoping to have diversity among those who own those licenses, but how you go about accomplishing that will be a big question," he said. 


A new training program is designed to help police officers identify and address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The program will focus on helping officers recognize the signs of PTSD, develop resilience, and find sources of peer support. Northern Illinois University Psychology Professor Michelle Lilly will be presenting at the sessions. She said they’re important for addressing a higher rate of suicide among first responders.

“The importance cannot be understated," she said.  "We have a duty I think, as a public, to protect those who are sworn to protect us.”

The Illinois Poison Center is advising residents to be careful about the fruits and berries of certain holiday plants. 

The plants in question are holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia. Carol DesLauriers is a toxicologist with the Illinois Poison Center.  She said the plants aren’t deadly if accidentally consumed, but they can cause nausea and vomiting.

“These plants are attractive visually. They may smell nice, and leaves and berries from fresh plants can fall to the ground where children who are crawling around can get access to them and taste them.”