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. 

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The global pandemic has fueled a rise in misinformation circulating on social media.

Since the early days of COVID-19, Facebook and other platforms have been full of memes and posts challenging testing results and even alluding that the whole virus story is a conspiracy.

Peter Adams is with the News Literacy Project. They’ve created tools for students to evaluate news stories.

He says the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic, where new data is being released constantly, has created an atmosphere where misinformation can easily spread.

Spencer Tritt

School districts across Illinois are starting to release reopening plans for this fall.

Many parents are uncomfortable with their kids going back to school during the pandemic. They worry if social distancing is possible and if younger students will struggle to wear a mask all day. But not all.

Of the seven people in Renee Olson’s house, nearly all of them have had COVID-19. After quarantining inside for weeks, she still has a cough but said she feels about 95% back to normal.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement had announced that international students must take some of their classes in-person. If not, they could be deported from the United States.

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said the number of cases is a jump up from recent daily reports. The county’s total is now stands at 3,189.  

“The good news though, is that our positivity rate continues to decline. We’re at 2.9% for a rolling five-day average, but our overall positivity rate is 8%," she said. 

On a new Teachers’ Lounge podcast, host Peter Medlin had a long chat with Huntley Middle School Principal Amonaquenette Parker.

Parker talked about the big lessons she learned about education during the pandemic and her perspective as a Black educator and mother as the country has started having more conversations about racial inequality and police brutality.

The conversation covered a lot of ground, so they also talked about when Parker’s mom was her boss for a few years and her love of cheesy romance novels.

Gerd Altman / Pixabay

It was not a trick question that I asked my fifth-grade students long ago.

"How can CPR revive a person if we breathe IN oxygen and we breathe OUT carbon dioxide?"

After some guessing, one student came up with the correct answer. "There is still some oxygen left in the air we exhale."

Yes there is, and while the ratio is different, it is sufficient to get the job done.

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Public libraries are working to open up their facilities to the public again, even as they expand their offerings online. 

When Governor J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order went into effect mid-March, most businesses and nonprofits temporarily shut down. Jen Barton, the director of Genoa Public Library, said there wasn’t any specific guidance in the order for libraries.

https://www.sandwichfair.com/

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the world. Not only does it threaten our health, it’s removed things we may have taken for granted. One is attending large gatherings. A northern Illinois county fair is the latest to feel the blow.

The 2020 Sandwich Fair has been canceled. This is the first time that’s happened since its inception in 1888. It's normally held Wednesday through Friday after Labor Day. 

The race for Illinois' 16th Congressional District pits a multi-term incumbent against a political newcomer in this November’s election.

The District stretches across 12 northern Illinois counties and has been represented by Republican Adam Kinzinger since 2012. He’s running as an incumbent this November but faces a challenge from Dani Brzozowski.

Perspective: COVID-19 Is More Than An Inconvenience

Jul 7, 2020
Bob Dmyt / Pixabay

For me, like I suspect many of you, COVID-19 has given me cabin fever. I’ve baked more fancy desserts than my partner and I need to eat. I’ve taken up drawing and painting (with painfully poor results). I’m driving my dog bonkers with all the walks I want to take each day. I haven’t tried making sourdough bread yet, but I’ve seen enough pictures on Instagram to know I’m in the minority there. For me, this pandemic is an inconvenience.

Tails Humane Society

COVID-19 has affected how animal shelters operate, and the demand for pets.

When the state started closing down in mid-March due to the pandemic, a lot of businesses and organizations had to adjust quickly. For Tails Humane Society in DeKalb, that meant shifting their cats, dogs and other critters to foster care. Executive Director Michelle Groeper said the operation was a success, though a bit hectic.  

niu.edu

As COVID-19 started shutting down international travel in March, students from Northern Illinois University studying abroad had to be rushed back home.

Anne Seitzinger said she knows it was devastating for them. She’s the director of the study abroad office at NIU.  

Months later, her staff is still helping them deal with the consequences of the abrupt change in plans.

“They're trying to get refunds for the students, and most of them have been able to do that,” she said. “And the ones that haven't been able to tell us about refunds yet, it's sounding positive.”

Spencer Tritt

Illinois recently released guidelines for schools to return in-person this fall. Some concerned parents are choosing to homeschool their kids this year rather than send them back to in-person classes during COVID-19.

Brandi Poreda has homeschooled three of her kids over the last 20 years. She said the biggest advantage of homeschooling is flexibility.

Her first piece of advice to parents homeschooling for the first time? Don’t try to replicate the public school classroom experience.

NIU Athletics

College athletes are returning to campuses across the country.

Voluntary workouts are underway for football and basketball players at Northern Illinois University.  And the NCAA has approved plans to begin official preseason practices later this summer.

 As the state lifts more restrictions, moving to Phase Four of the Restore Illinois plan, there are worries about a spike in coronavirus cases.  Hear what some experts are saying,

A Bloomington nursing home was the site of a COVID-19 outbreak.  We learn more about what happened there.

And while Illinois lays claim to the Great Emancipator, its past also includes slavery. We'll get a history lesson.  That and more on Statewide.

 

This week's lineup:

'Dear Class of 2020...' | Teachers' Lounge Podcast

Jun 26, 2020
Spencer Tritt

This is a special episode of the show we’re calling “Dear Class of 2020…”  The teachers are gone. This week it’s all about the students graduating after the strangest senior year ever. You’re going to hear four valedictorians give the speeches they would have given, in a normal year, to an auditorium full of their friends and family.

The Class of 2020 valedictorians are:

Xavior Hutsell of Roosevelt High School in Rockford

Nina Mitchell of DeKalb High School

Ashley Althaus of Amboy High School

And, finally, Tessa Harbecke or Sycamore High School

Spencer Tritt

The State guidelines that were announced Tuesday for schools to resume in-person classes this fall need more work. That’s according to one of Illinois’ biggest teachers unions.

The pandemic put schools across the country in a tough position. They know many don’t consider the quality of e-learning equal to that of in-person instruction. But, even with new in-person safety protocols, some parents say they aren’t going to feel comfortable sending their kids to school.

Kevin Kobsic, for United Nations / via Unsplash

 

I'm a medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford. The COVID-19 pandemic put my schooling on hold, so back in early April, I fought back. I joined the Medical Reserve Corps of Winnebago County.

   

Rock Falls Tourism

The Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce is holding a ribbon cutting event for local businesses at the riverfront park. 

The event is part of an effort to bring back customers and restore their confidence as the state reopens. Chamber President Bethany Bland says companies will need to put in effort to attract customers whose entire routines have changed.

The Winnebago County Health Department announced Monday that there are nine new cases of COVID-19 in the area. 

No deaths were reported, but there is now a total case count of 2,903. The positivity rate is at 9.7%, meaning less than one in 10 coronavirus tests come back indicating someone is infected. 

The Health Department also announced it will list on its website businesses that have been issued orders of closure or validated complaints due to COVID-19.

Northern Illinois University

Most major sports leagues are still postponed because of the pandemic. And the NCAA is still in the midst of approving plans to get college sports back in action for the fall.

But the prospect of campus capacity limits, playing without fans, and players testing positive for COVID-19, leaves much of the college sports world still up in the air.

Esports, on the other hand, have proved much more adept at migrating online. Nearly a million fans streamed the remotely-played League of Legends spring finals.

Flickr user E Photos / "IMG_1927 - Power Lines" (CC v 2.0)

The pandemic and accompanying stay-at-home orders have greatly affected many regional services, including utilities.

Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order and the accompanying months of social distancing have greatly affected what buildings remain open, and where people spend their time. 

Modern life requires electricity, and more people at home has changed how it’s consumed.  Aleksi Paaso is the Director of Distribution Planning at ComEd.  He said the times of day in which people use the most electricity haven’t shifted, but the system’s still been affected.

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