Know Your Status With STD Testing Event

39 minutes ago
Rainbow Cafe

Southern Illinois residents will be able to get free HIV testing this Saturday.

Rainbow Café and Community Action Place are offering tests for several sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, at the Know Your Status event. Rainbow Café manager Benton Goff said the testing is especially important since many people have found it difficult to access health care during the pandemic. Among sexually active people, 1 in 2 will contract an STD or STI by the age of 25.

Bill Oxford/unsplash

Residents of Marion Franklin and Jefferson counties can give their opinions of the current health care needs, thanks to a survey being conducted by SSM Health. 

Rebecca Niemerg with SSM Health says easy access to a doctor  is a big concern.

State Tops Single-Day Vaccine Record at 154,201 as Universal Eligibility Nears

20 hours ago

Gov. JB Pritzker reiterated Thursday that all Illinois residents age 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, April 12, as vaccine supply – but also virus transmission rates and hospitalizations – continues to increase.

More than 80 of the state’s 102 counties have already opened eligibility to individuals age 16 and over in advance of the April 12 eligibility expansion date.

New Missouri Study to Map Tick Populations, Tick-Borne Illnesses

Apr 7, 2021
Missouri News Connection

When it comes to ticks, Missouri's not too hot, not too cold, very humid and has lots of wildlife - which means lots of potential hosts for disease-carrying pests.

COVID-19 Positivity Rate Reaches Highest Level Since Late January

Apr 7, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Public health officials on Wednesday announced 3,790 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 out of 80,628 test results reported over the previous 24 hours, bringing the statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate to 4.1 percent, the highest that figure has stood since Jan. 30.

Statewide, COVID-19 hospitalizations also increased Wednesday, as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported a total of 1,710 individuals were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday night. Of those, 353 patients were in the intensive care unit and 142 were on ventilators.

Sirrea Whittaker describes her dad as the life of the party, an outspoken Black man with a love for his Omega Psi Phi fraternity and a sprawling network of friends.

“And it sometimes was annoying, because like, you can go to the grocery store and you leave two hours later because he finds someone he knew,” says the 36-year-old working mother from Indianapolis.

His 5-year-old granddaughter describes him a little differently: "He was the man that gave me chocolate milk every night, when we spent the night."

COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Cases Increase; State Boosting Vaccination Resources

Apr 6, 2021
Capitol News Illinois

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise Tuesday as state officials announced that additional resources were being deployed in the state’s vaccination efforts.

Public health officials announced 2,931 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 out of 51,625 test results Tuesday, bringing the statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate to 3.9 percent, the highest that figure has been since Feb. 1.

COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Continue to See an Uptick

Apr 5, 2021
Capitol News Illinois

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise in Illinois as the statewide seven-day rolling case positivity rate reached 3.8 percent for the third consecutive day Monday.

The case positivity rate had not been near 3.8 percent since the beginning of February, when it hit 3.9 percent on Feb. 1, and then continued to decline throughout the month and into March.

State and county health departments are partnering with health providers and pharmacies to help administer COVID-19 vaccine. Here is our list for the week of April 4-12:

Appointments also available through Illinois' COVID Vaccine Registration Page

Medicaid Work Requirements May Be Gone For Good

Apr 5, 2021

It appears major changes may be coming to Medicaid, which insures around 70 million Americans and provides health coverage for low-income adults, people with disabilities and some children.

The Trump administration supported work or volunteer hours as a requirement for health coverage. The move was spearheaded by Seema Verma, then-director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

3,526 New COVID-19 Cases Are One-Day High Since Feb. 5

Apr 1, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

The state reported 3,526 new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the highest one-day total since Feb. 5.

That drove the seven-day rolling average case positivity rate to 3.5 percent, a high since Feb. 3, as more than 96,000 test results were reported over the previous 24 hours. Another 25 COVID-19-positive Illinoisans were reported to have died over the previous 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 21,326 since the pandemic began.

Report Finds Pandemic Worsened Rural Health Disparities

Mar 31, 2021

A new report from the SIU Medicine School of Population Science, the SIU Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and several other partners examines the ways the pandemic has impacted rural areas.

Sameer Vohra, founding chair of the population science department, said one of the major recurring themes was a lack of broadband access, which increases a sense of isolation when things move to virtual platforms. It also makes it more difficult for people to work, attend school, and use telehealth during a pandemic.


An estimated 2% of Illinois adults have a gambling problem, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. But it’s unclear which populations are most affected and at risk. 

The Illinois Department of Human Services launched a new study last fall aimed at collecting data on the issue of gambling disorders in the state. The agency has also issued several new grants to organizations and treatment providers across the state — aimed at raising awareness and removing barriers to treatment for those with gambling disorders.

Positivity Rate, Hospitalizations Continue to Trend Upward

Mar 29, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

COVID-19 hospitalizations and case positivity rates continued to trend upward Monday, leaving entry into a recently-announced “bridge” phase of reopening uncertain even as the percentage of seniors vaccinated continued to increase.

The COVID-19 case positivity rate was 3.3 percent Monday, having risen for the fourth straight day. It marked a 50 percent increase since March 14.

State and county health departments are partnering with health providers and pharmacies to help administer COVID-19 vaccine. Here is our list for the week of March 29-April 3:

State Authorizes Counties to Expand Vaccine Eligibility Early

Mar 26, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Areas of the state may begin vaccinating those 16 years of age or older earlier than anticipated as vaccine demand slows under current guidelines and COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases see an uptick.

Vaccine eligibility is not set to open statewide until April 12, but in response to an increase in cases, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that local health departments seeing low vaccine demand can expand eligibility to all who are 16 and older. The state also announced the deployment of five mobile teams to combat a surge in northwest Illinois.

Pritzker Vaccinated as Positivity Rate Rises

Mar 24, 2021
Capitol News Illinois photo by Jerry Nowicki

Gov. JB Pritzker received a COVID-19 vaccine and briefly took questions from reporters at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Wednesday as the state’s seven-day rolling average COVID-19 positivity rate ticked up to its highest point since Feb. 11.

The 2.8 percent case positivity rate represented an increase of 0.3 percent from the day prior and 0.7 percent from its low of 11 days earlier – a 25 percent increase in that span. There were 1,261 hospital beds in use for COVID-19 as of Tuesday night, roughly level from the day prior but a 14 percent increase since March 12. There were 269 intensive care unit beds in use by COVID-19 patients and 130 ventilators, both near their highs of the month.

As more COVID vaccine doses are shipped across the country, our region is seeing an up-tick in clinics being scheduled.

WSIU's Steph Whiteside talks with two local doctors about their experience, as the region marks one-year since COVID-19 arrived.

State Nears ‘Bridge’ Phase with 64% of Seniors Receiving at Least 1 Vaccine Dose

Mar 22, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

With 64 percent of the state’s seniors having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Illinois is nearing the “bridge” phase of reopening that will allow for greater capacity limits at businesses and social gatherings.

That number must hit 70 percent to enter the bridge phase, which would trigger another 28-day monitoring period. If virus transmission and hospitalization metrics don’t worsen during the monitoring period, Phase 5 can begin, removing all capacity restrictions.

SIU School of Law

Ahead of his virtual lecture, Harvard Law Professor Glenn Cohen talks with WSIU's Jennifer Fuller about the challenges of AI in medicine.

Cohen is the 2021 John and Marsha Ryan Bioethecist at the SIU School of Law.

All Outside Chicago Will Be Vaccine Eligible April 12; Reopening Changes Announced

Mar 18, 2021

All Illinoisans 16 years of age and older outside of Chicago will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations beginning April 12, and the state announced a “metric-based” phase-in to greater reopening Thursday.

The so-called “bridge phase” to reopening can begin when 70 percent of seniors 65 years of age and older have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, according to the governor. As of Thursday, that number stood at 58 percent.

Democrats Push Repeal of Abortion Law Mandating Minors Notify Parents

Mar 17, 2021
Capitol News Illinois file photo

Some Democratic lawmakers want to repeal an abortion law that requires girls under the age of 18 who are seeking an abortion to notify their parents at least 48 hours before the procedure, with some exceptions.

Under the current law, the notice requirement doesn’t apply if a minor is accompanied by an adult family member, such as a parent, grandparent, stepparent or legal guardian, or if an adult family member waives the notice in writing.

File photo from

A temporary vaccination site will be held at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion on Monday, March 22nd from 9 am through 7 pm.

Up to 300 doses will be distributed. Appointments are required. To sign up, go to the IDPH website and use the code SPARCHRMC0322. Or call the IDPH vaccine hotline at (833) 621-1284. English and Spanish speaking operators will be available to assist.

Routine Doctor Visits Are Essential For Adolescents

Mar 17, 2021
A person in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck.
DarkoStojanovic / Pixabay

Routine doctor visits are still important as kids age..

Southern 7 Health Educator Sara Chapman said yearly visits for kids between 11 and 21 are just as important as they are for younger children. Adolescents are going through a lot of changes and regular visits can help address some health issues before they become lifelong problems.

“There’s a lot of growth going on, you know hormones are changing, we are physically growing, there’s just so many changes, really,” she said.

State Still Working on Uniform Outbreak Protocol for Veterans Homes

Mar 16, 2021

At a committee hearing Tuesday, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs officials reported that all four state-run veterans homes have no staff or residents currently positive for COVID-19, but the agency is still working to produce uniform infection control procedures for the facilities.

IDVA Chief of Staff Tony Kolbeck, who testified during the virtual House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, said he expects those protocols will be finalized within two weeks.

Ezike says State ‘Getting Close’ to Next Phase of Reopening

Mar 16, 2021

Illinois Department of Public health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said on Monday the state is “getting close” to the next phase of reopening amid increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates and decreasing positivity rates.

Speaking in a Senate Health Committee meeting, Ezike said the state has been working on a phased reopening plan that could be announced by Governor JB Pritzker later this week.

Committees Look to Address State’s Mental Health Care Needs

Mar 15, 2021

Committees dealing with mental health and addiction met in both the Illinois House and Senate Friday to discuss a new crisis born from the COVID pandemic.

“We're fully into what I consider to be the second pandemic, which is mental health and addiction, and we have so much work to do,” Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, said during a meeting of the House Mental Health and Addiction Committee, which she chairs.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday afternoon launched a COVID-19 vaccine hotline — something advocates have been asking Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration to do for months.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a renewed focus on mental health issues, particularly among students. Some Illinois lawmakers say schools must bolster suicide prevention procedures to better identify warning signs.