WATCH: Harvard-NPR panel on the fight to tame COVID

WASHINGTON — The world is approaching the second anniversary of a cluster of cases of respiratory illness traced to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The cause: a virus we now know as SARS-CoV-2. The World Health Organization named the illness caused by the virus COVID-19 in February 2020, as cases […]

One in four students regularly absent last year, Illinois report card shows

CHAMPAIGN — Learning did slow last year during pandemic school – especially for the state’s most vulnerable students. The Illinois State Board of Education dropped this information on Friday morning in its annual report card. “We need to recognize that for our Black and Hispanic children, remote learning was not very effective, particularly for English […]

Hospital Cyberattacks: More Frequent, Severe As Pandemic Continues

INDIANAPOLIS — Ransomware attacks against healthcare facilities are becoming more frequent and severe as the pandemic and workforce shortages stress hospital capabilities. That makes cyberattacks pose potential life-threatening consequences, experts say. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s4780019/audio/2021/08/ransomwaretwowayweb.mp3 On Aug. 4, Indianapolis-based Eskenazi Health experienced a ransomware attack, halting access to electronic medical records and requiring ambulances to bypass the city’s […]

After Years Of Increased Police Presence, How Has The Pandemic Affected School Discipline?

ROCKFORD — Since the 2014-15 school year, Rockford Public Schools referred students to law enforcement for school discipline matters 2,379 times. The number of police incidents climbed from around 300 per year up to 503 in 2018-19, according to data obtained by WNIJ via a Freedom of Information Act request. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s528/audio/2021/07/0715rpsf.mp3 Listen to this story […]

Illinois Supreme Court To ‘Triage’ Eviction Cases

SPRINGFIELD – With the state-imposed moratorium on residential evictions set to expire Aug. 1, the Illinois Supreme Court announced a plan Thursday that provides an additional one-month “triage” period for tenants and landlords in certain cases to seek rental assistance. Gov. JB Pritzker first issued an executive order prohibiting residential evictions in March 2020 in […]

As Pandemic Weighs On Children’s Mental Health, Some Iowans Struggle To Find Help

DES MOINES, Ia. — Janette Lems said the trouble for her kids really began when they started school last fall. Her 7-year-old daughter struggled with being limited to interacting with just several kids who didn’t include her friends, and her 5-year-old son was displaying a lot of anger and aggression. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s4780019/audio/2021/05/se-kids-mental-healthweb.mp3 Listen to this story […]

Lawmakers Demand Pritzker Open Unemployment Offices To Public, Want Answers On Fraud Payments

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ Department of Employment Security has received more than 1.3 million fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, the state isn’t making public how much money has actually been paid out to fraudsters. Gov. JB Pritzker this week said an ongoing federal investigation into pandemic-related unemployment fraud […]

Flash Index Shows Record Jump In Illinois Economy

URBANA — For the first time in 13 months, the Illinois economy is expanding, according to the University of Illinois Flash Index. The Flash Index reading for April is 101.5, surging above 100 for the first time since February 2020, when it was at 105.7. The COVID-19 pandemic sent the Flash Index below 100 starting […]

DOL Watchdog: OSHA’s Virtual Inspections During Pandemic Likely Led To Dangerous Workplaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s decision during the COVID-19 pandemic to conduct many inspections virtually — instead of onsite — risked worker safety, the U.S. Department of Labor’s inspector general concluded in an audit report released Tuesday. The report does not specifically mention OSHA’s enforcement at meatpacking plants, which quickly became COVID-19 hotspots last year, but […]

Industry Lobbying Left Nursing Homes Vulnerable In Pandemic

Published in collaboration with the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Even before COVID-19, aides caring for elderly and disabled people in nursing homes often were overworked and underpaid, doing everything from changing linens to helping residents eat to physically rotating them to prevent bedsores. Ashley Ford often was one of four aides for as many as 42 residents […]