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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 Officer Recovering From COVID-19

19 hours ago
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.


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).   

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a fourth field hospital location for treating COVID-19 patients. Public health experts are expecting a surge in cases this month.

The nutrition program for women with infants, and young children, commonly referred to as WIC, is operating through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some recipients say they are having a hard time finding food that is WIC-approved at grocery stores.

Last year, more than 182,00 Illinois residents participated in the program. 

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.


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.'”

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.

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.'”

By Saturday, officials expect 500 hospital beds to be in place at a converted McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago to deal with the overflow of COVID-19 patients. 

The massive facility off Lakeshore Drive is expected by mid-April to have up to 3,000 beds, including ICU units, to deal, if needed with COVID-19 cases. There are now more than 5,000 cases statewide, most in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Gov. J.B Pritzker announced the progress in his daily press briefing on Monday.

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.

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.

Connie Kuntz

The Animal Services Department of Winnebago County shut down its adoption services because of Governor J.B. Prtizker's order to stay at home. The adoption program -- not euthanasia -- is the main way animals leave the shelter. Though it’s closed to the public, the department continues to care for the animals who are still there. And its officers continue to respond to emergency calls, those where the health and safety of a person or an animal are threatened.

Brett Frazier is the administrator of animal services. He said they had an emergency call on Thursday night.

Illinois is on lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak but some businesses are open. This includes grocery stores. Many people have been rushing to them to make sure they have everything they need, during this uncertain time.  


Paul Simon is the spokesperson for Schnucks. He said the grocery store chain is taking precautionary steps to reduce the spread COVID-19.

Artists throughout Illinois have been hit particularly hard by the social distancing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. For many, their primary source of income has dried up as gigs and events have been canceled.

For this week’s Illinois Issues report, I gathered stories of their struggles and their solutions for keeping creativity alive during a global pandemic.  

Illinois is extending its income tax filing period, days after the federal government did the same. 

Both Illinois and federal income taxes will have the same deadline – July 15.

Spencer Tritt

During the dash to prepare students and families to learn from home, the rural Oregon Community School District issued what amounted to a disclaimer. 


John Zuber is an Oregon high school English teacher. He says the district had to say e-learning simply won’t be at the same level of education they get in the classroom. It’s just not possible.


“Which is a good admission, I think. It's like we can't replicate what we would normally do, but we're trying," he said.


Susan Stephens

NIU President Lisa Freeman released a letter to the campus community on Wednesday, March 25 outlining two cases of students diagnosed with COVID-19:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am writing today to confirm that two NIU students have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus (COVID-19). University officials are cooperating fully with the DeKalb County Health Department and other public health officials regarding the appropriate next step for our community.


The DeKalb County Health Department has identified two additional positive cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in DeKalb County. One adult in their 20’s and another adult in their 50’s.

To maintain patient privacy and confidentiality, the Health Department will not provide additional identifying information, such as specific area of residence, as this would violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). DCHD’s Communicable Disease staff are monitoring the patients and in communication with close contacts.


Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara announced on Wednesday the creation of the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Loan Fund. The loan fund, established by the Northern Illinois Community Development Corporation and managed by the Rockford Local Development Corporation, is funded by the City of Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois Bank & Trust, Associated Bank, WinTrust, Midwest Community Bank, Blackhawk Bank, Northwest Bank, Stillman BancCorp and Sunil Puri.

According to a news release, $2 million has been raised with other financial institutions committing to support the fund.



Just a few weeks ago, Governor J-B Pritzker offered up a spending blueprint for Illinois.  But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic was on the radar. 


Since then, Pritzker's focus has been a day-by-day watch as the number of cases mounts and medical resources become scarce.  In other words, it's hard to look ahead when the state’s current situation is pressing.  

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday described an Illinois worst-case scenario in which the state could  be far short of the ventilators, hospital beds and intensive-care unit spaces for expected COVID-19 cases.

Those in the real estate industry were hoping for a competitive and prosperous housing market during the spring season, but the rapid spread of COVID-19 put a pause on their plans. One broker offered advice to the industry on what it should be doing through the pandemic.