Covid-19

Join host Peter Medlin for a discussion on how different school re-opening plans are playing out throughout northern Illinois. Hear from parents and teachers about the challenges of incorporating different learning options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 343 new cases of coronavirus from over the weekend on Monday. 

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said this means there have now been more than 10,000 cases total.

“Our rolling 7-day positivity rate is 13.5%, well above the 6.5% that we need to get ourself out of mitigation.”

Seven residents also lost their lives to the disease since last week. Officials from local health care providers say they have seen many more people coming in for tests, and are working to increase patient capacity as cases mount.

Fighting — and adapting to — the coronavirus in Illinois has been costly. So far, state agencies have spent more than $1.6 billion in federal and state COVID-19 funding since late March, buying everything from face masks to Subway sandwiches.

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Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson criticized how the state is implementing its new COVID-19 mitigation measures on region 1 for the Reopen Illinois plan.

He said they focus too strongly on closing restaurants and bars, while ignoring COVID cases in other businesses. 

“Amazon came out and said they had 19,000 employees with COVID. And yet the State says, well, you know, the State says, ‘Well, you know, some of those companies are just too big for us to have any control over.’ So then why are you going after small restaurants that are doing everything right?” 

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Students in the Proviso School District are still learning remotely as COVID-19 case rates go up across Illinois. But their teachers are now working inside the district’s school buildings, despite safety concerns and the Teachers’ Union filing of an Unfair Labor Practice & Grievance against the district.

 

Almost 300 Proviso teachers have been back for a week now. Maggie Riley -- she’s the president of the Proviso Teachers’ Union -- said the conditions are exactly what they were worried about. 

 

Photo provided by Richard Raether.

North American theater tickets sales have fallen 84% compared to the same period in 2019. That’s according to a September report by the international group TRG Arts. Despite the drop, a northern Illinois playhouse found a way to adapt during its COVID-19 financial drought.

Rockford’s Artists’ Ensemble Theater is launching a new podcast.

 

Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are announcing additional COVID-19 mitigation efforts that will be implemented in Region 1 beginning on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. According to a news release issued Thursday afternoon, after mitigation efforts initially took effect in Region 1 on Oct. 3, the positivity rate has remained the highest in the state, with the region reporting an 11.9% rolling positivity rate today, Oct. 22.

The STEM Read Podcast - Past, Present, And Futurism

Oct 20, 2020

In this episode of The STEM Read Podcast, we’re bringing you an excerpt from the Future Telling Webinar series, STEM Read’s collaboration with NIU’s University Libraries.

719 Northern Illinois University freshmen received the Huskie Pledge grant this fall, during the first semester it was offered. It covers remaining tuition and fees for Illinois residents with a minimum 3.0 GPA in high school and whose family income is no more than $75,000.

Sol Jensen is the VP of enrollment management, marketing and communications at NIU.

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UPDATE:  Dr. Sandra Martell issued the following statement related to indoor dining in Winnebago County on Oct. 20, 2020

Last week, Winnebago County Health Department issued guidance for Meetings, Social Events, and Gatherings at Restaurants and Bars during the resurgence.

Jenna Dooley

Northern Illinois University is expanding COVID-19 testing efforts into what some might consider an unexpected place: wastewater.

Dr. Barrie Bode was the longtime chair of NIU’s Department of Biological Studies. Now he has a new title he could have never anticipated: director of COVID-19 facilities.

Partnered with the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District, Bode is building a lab and assembling a team to implement a new component in the university’s surveillance testing plan.

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The Winnebago County Health Department Monday announced 525 new cases of COVID-19. 

That number represents new cases from Friday and over the weekend. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said this was concerning, especially after reporting more than 200 new cases over a three-day period last week.

“We are reporting no new deaths and our hospital capacity has stabilized over the last week," she said. "But we are in a very critical time frame where we have both seasonal influenza beginning to rear, as well as our COVID-19.”

Peter Medlin

Over the summer, the school year was still in limbo and racial tensions were running high in Rockford as well as communities across the country. A former student reached out to Amanda Becker with a simple question: “Mrs. Becker, how are you going to teach about this?”

Becker is a history teacher at Auburn High School and a Rockford historian. Her answer was a philosophy she learned from her own teaching mentors.

“The best thing to do is to let the kids talk. That's it. Don't teach them anything. Let the kids talk,” she said.

Judith Meyer

Our guest this episode is Judith Meyer, she’s an artist -- a painter, to be exact -- and art professor at Rock Valley College.

Judith talked to host Peter Medlin about how to virtually teach about art, the unexpected places around the world her art has gone to, what she's been working on during the pandemic, creativity as a spiritual exercise and so much more.

 

Positive cases of coronavirus on the Northern Illinois University campus peaked in September, but the northern Illinois region continues to struggle with preventing new cases.

Midway Village Museum

Some Illinois counties have lower pandemic death tolls than others. Part of the differences come from demographics. And just like on the national scene, Illinois results depend a lot on prevention efforts.

Winnebago County and Champaign County both have a mix of urban and rural populations. Winnebago County has nearly a third more COVID-19 cases than Champaign County, and six times the number of deaths.

Kishwaukee College Offers Contact Tracer Training

Oct 8, 2020
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Kishwaukee College Workforce and Community Education will offer an online Contact Tracer class the first two weeks of November. Contact tracers work with people who have been diagnosed, or exposed, to highly communicable diseases including the coronavirus. They relate information regarding quarantine, testing and public health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. The classes will be conducted virtually. 

 

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This is Mental Health Awareness week. This year’s events have created a lot of uncertainty across the world and most people are looking for a relief. A northern Illinois monk offers meditation as a remedy.

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 203 new cases of COVID-19 from Saturday to Monday.

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell announced this while fielding questions about mitigation measures imposed on the county by the state health department.  

“Our total positives now is at 6,685, and over 34% of our population has been tested to date.”

Peter Medlin

On a new episode of Teachers’ Lounge, we have Jason Cavanaugh. He’s a high school math teacher and baseball coach in Sycamore.

They’re learning remotely. So, Jason is going into his empty, retrofitted math class to teach kids who are at home. Obviously, he’s never done this before, the students haven’t either. And, as you can imagine, the technology is not always flawless.

Chase Cavanaugh

A northern Illinois company is looking into ways to extend the life of N95 masks, especially in the medical domain. 

N95 masks have long been used by doctors, nurses and other health care workers for their ability to protect the wearer against airborne diseases. The masks can filter out 95% of incoming particles, as long as they are properly fitted and maintain a tight seal with the face. But the coronavirus pandemic has demand far outstripping supply, particularly when considering CDC recommendations.

Peter Medlin

More than 40 schools in Winnebago County have reported positive COVID-19 cases. Close to half of those are Rockford Public Schools. 

Dr. Sandra Martell is the director of the Winnebago County Health Department. She recently stressed that despite cases appearing in schools, the department doesn’t believe students and staff are transmitting the virus while at school. 

IDPH

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced Monday that COVID-19 resurgence mitigations will be implemented in Region 1, which holds the most northwestern counties in the state. The measures will begin on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. 

According to a press release, the region is seeing a seven-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days, which exceeds the threshold set for establishing mitigation measures in the region under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.

A staffer who recently traveled with Gov. JB Pritzker has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the governor and others to self-isolate for a period of two weeks, his office announced Tuesday.

The Winnebago County Health Department reported a spate of new COVID-19 cases Monday. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell made the announcement.

“Over the last three days, there were 225 positive cases reported for Winnebago County," she said. "Our seven-day positivity rate is at 9%.”

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

While the world waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, doctors are encouraging residents to catch up on their other immunizations. 

Lisa Gonzalez is Public Health Administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department. She said with the current pandemic, it’s just as important to protect yourself against other respiratory diseases, such as influenza.

“We believe that it’s likely that the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading at the same time.”

Victoria Lunacek

The majority of Illinois students are still learning remotely so there hasn’t been much need for school buses. Unfortunately, that means in many school districts there has been no need for bus drivers either.

Ladel Cass is a northern Illinois general manager at busing provider First Student.

He oversees 10 districts and says only around 30% are driving their normal routes right now.

And for the ones that are picking up and dropping off students as usual, they’ve had to make some major changes.

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Illinois has devoted more than $230 million across every county in the state for COVID-19 contact tracing.

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The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported 2,120 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 20 additional confirmed deaths. A DeKalb County infant is among the reported deaths in the most recent numbers from the state health department.

New Housing Assistance Available For 61016 Residents

Sep 18, 2020
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There’s a new housing rental assistance program available in areas around Cherry Valley.

 

 

 

 

The Community Action Agency announced housing assistance funds are available to those who experienced hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic. $69,000 dollars will go to residents in the 61016 zip code for immediate use, which the state health department has deemed as especially impacted by the pandemic. 

 

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