COVID-19 Informational Hub

WNIJ News and NPR is committed to connecting you with the latest news related to COVID-19 in northern Illinois and across the country. We are taking precautions to keep staff safe while providing you with the resources you need. Thank you for your continued support which allows us to remain your trusted source on the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pritzker Talks Vaccine, Contact Tracing, And University Spread

Sep 9, 2020
Blueroomstream.com

The statewide COVID-19 test positivity rate hit its lowest point since July 26 on Wednesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,337 new cases of the virus among 48,029 test results reported over the previous 24 hours.

The rolling seven-day average positivity rate was driven downward to 3.7 percent after Wednesday saw a 2.8 percent one-day positivity rate. 

That came as Region 7 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan saw its fourth straight day below an 8 percent positivity rate, the threshold at which the state increases economic restrictions in an effort to mitigate spread. The rate in Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee Counties, was 7.4 percent as of Sunday. That was still higher than the 6.5 percent rate at which the state would start to relax some of the added mitigations, which include closing bars and restaurants to indoor service.

Fiat Chrystler Automobiles

There’s new information known about COVID-19 cases associated with the Fiat Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere. 

 

Health officials from the Boone and Winnebago county health departments have been working closely with Fiat Chrysler to identify cases of COVID-19 at the Belvidere plant. The goal is to determine whether cases among workers were through community spread, or if there was an outbreak within the plant itself.

 

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University saw a slight increase in enrollment this fall.

 

Total enrollment at NIU climbed to 16,769 students. That’s only a 1% gain from last year, but it’s the first increase since 2009

Pixabay

The Winnebago County Health Department is reporting a preliminary count Friday of 44 new cases of coronavirus and a positivity rate of 6%.

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said this comes as Illinois is at risk for a surge in cases over the Labor Day weekend. It’s traditionally the last major summer weekend for people to get together. 

Peter Medlin

Plenty of schools surveyed staff and parents over the past several months, asking about e-learning challenges and seeking suggestions going into the new COVID-affected school year.

Schools don’t as often ask the students themselves, especially younger kids. The West Aurora School District did ask its students, from Pre-K all the way through high school, how they felt about schools being closed.

Spencer Tritt

Many Illinois students are more than a week into remote learning, and parents are still finding new challenges and trying to get used to the new normal.

“We’ve just had a morning recess mishap. Did that land on your foot? Are your toe-sies okay?” One of Colleen Chavez’s children was crying. After a few seconds comforting them, she told them to run along and play with something safer. Only got a few minutes before it’s time to log on or school.

Kevin Wood

I refuse to just grow a mustache and say, “Well, my time is done for a while,” and wait for something to happen. –Lincoln Presenter Michael Krebs

Due to Illinois’s shelter-at-home order, many of us are quarantined, working remotely or unable to work at all. But what about our Lincoln presenters? How has the coronavirus disrupted their profession, which relies almost exclusively on live events, many of them taking place in schools and senior centers?

The Winnebago County Health Department on Monday reported 9 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the total case count since the pandemic began up to 4,233.  Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said that it’s important for everyone who’s been exposed to get tested, even if they’re asymptomatic.

“Approximately 22% of our population has sought out testing," she said. "Total tests performed to date in Winnebago County are over 65,000. “

Pixabay user Gerd Altmann

Misinformation about COVID-19 has spread almost as much as the disease itself – and sometimes, faster. Why is this the case? 

When it emerged earlier this year, the world had limited knowledge of the coronavirus and its full effects. Doctors and researchers worked to better understand the disease, but countless rumors also circulated. Peter Adams with the News Literacy Project explained.

Perspective: Grandmother's COVID Report

Aug 27, 2020
Bart via Flickr (CC by NC 2.0)

“We live inside historic moments, unaware of their significance.” One of my high school history teachers told us that. He said historians will one day study our time and lives and suggested we record our observations and thoughts to assist them. “Or do it for your future children and grandchildren.” The hint of sex in our future made the boys leer at the girls, which made the girls giggle and the teacher sigh.

Peter Medlin

Many school districts surveyed staff and parents over the summer. They highlighted challenges in the spring. Several schools asked the students themselves about what they faced and what to change as classes resume. 

 

A growing number of northern Illinois school districts have pushed their in-person start dates back and are beginning the school year online. 

 

Peter Medlin

Move-in day is normally a frenzy. At large schools like Northern Illinois University, thousands of students descend onto campus; student organizations pass around sign-up sheets in crowded dorms, maybe even the football team helps unload furniture.

Not this time. This year, students made appointments to move into dorms over the course of several days.

David Lewis just transferred to NIU from a community college in his home state of Missouri. He and his dad drove in the night before to get an early start. He came for the political science department and the marching band.

The Winnebago County Health Department on Tuesday reported 17 additional cases of COVID. This brings the county’s total health case count since the pandemic began to four thousand eighty-seven. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martel said unfortunately, that wasn’t the only change.

“Once again we have one additional death to report, and our community mourns the loss of one member," she said. "No matter how small the number, we continue to mourn those losses."

Whether it’s the global pandemic or social unrest, nearly everyone has experienced some trauma in 2020.

It’s hard to grasp the long-term mental health implications of COVID-19. But many Americans have already seen their mental health suffer during the pandemic.

New cases of COVID-19 among staff at the Thomson federal prison have prompted a call for more testing.

As of August 20th, 30 staff members and 18 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos, along with Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, have called for immediate full staff testing in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge episode we have Molly Lilja, principal at Manchester Elementary School in Poplar Grove.

She talked to host Peter Medlin about everything from the challenges of preparing for the school year during COVID, like putting up thousands of dollars’ worth of plexiglass dividers or having some students eat lunch in the library. They also chat about teaching online, what that was like in the spring and how the fall could be different.

Near the end, they also touch on Molly’s passion for playing a certain extreme sport!

HomeStart

This week, Governor Pritzker and the IDHA announced that the deadline to apply for rental assistance has been extended by one week to August 28th.

Illinois Child Care Bureau

Many school districts are delaying in-person instruction and starting the year remotely. That can present challenges for parents who work during the day and can’t be there to assist with their child’s virtual learning. 

That means many will have to seek out child care options, and those providers are advertising that they can not only provide outdoor activities and crafts, but also help with remote learning.

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 22 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martel said there were no new deaths.

“That brings our total case count to 3,828. As of this day too, over 56,000 tests have been done, representing almost 20% of our population.”

The numbers come as school districts in Winnebago County are preparing to reopen. Several are offering the choice of remote or in-person learning for students.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

 

Health officials are investigating cases of COVID-19 associated with the Fiat Chrysler plant in Belvidere. Several local health departments are involved, including Boone and Winnebago counties.

While there are a number of cases associated with the plant, health officials have not confirmed if exposure to the virus occurred there.

Spencer Tritt

It’s feared COVID-19 will make the current lack of teachers in Illinois even worse. That’s because some older and at-risk teachers are hesitant to come back to school during the pandemic.

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