Novel Coronavirus

InFocus 105: Renewal

Jan 29, 2021

January is traditionally a time of renewal and new starts. How does that apply to a global health crisis? We'll take a closer look at how new vaccines and treatments are changing the way healthcare professionals are caring for patients and working to keep others healthy. The New Year may also bring new rules that affect how we live and work. We'll explore what some of those options look like, and what you need to know as you make your own resolutions and plans.

SIU Researcher Discusses New COVID Variant

Jan 26, 2021
A virus protein with spikes.
Daniel Roberts / Pixabay

SIU researchers have discovered a new variant of the coronavirus. I sat down with assistant professor of biochemistry, Keith Gagnon, whose RNA lab discovered the new strain.

Gagnon said the new variant appears to be unique and widespread.

“It has a set of mutations that are distinct and different from those that we've seen previously, including the UK variants,” Gagnon said. “So we're going to give it a different name. And it appears to have emerged in the US and spread to the US pretty widely and is now one of the most dominant forms”

COVID Admissions Increase At Local Hospitals

Nov 17, 2020

As COVID-19 cases rise in our region, hospitals are filling up.

Governor JB Pritzker has warned that it will be difficult for hospitals to meet the needs of patients if COVID continues to spread at the current rate.

Locally, Southern Illinois Healthcare hit a record with 54 patients currently admitted due to COVID, up from 45 last week. Since March, SIH has had more than 380 patients hospitalized with COVID. While beds are filling up with the increase in patients, as of now, SIH leaders say they’re able to meet the demand.

Gerd_Altmann / Pixabay

Researchers at SIU are taking part in an effort to help further understand the novel coronavirus by sequencing it’s genome.

Associate professor Keith Gagnon heads the lab working on the project, which is mapping the RNA of the coronavirus in an effort to understand how the virus is changing. These changes can also help researchers understand how the virus has traveled from place to place, because different mutations may be more common in different areas of the world.

Gallatin County Offers Rapid COVID-19 Test

Sep 28, 2020
Gloved hands putting a swab into a tube.
Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

Residents of Gallatin County won’t have to wait as long for COVID-19 test results, as the Gallatin County Wellness Center is now offering a rapid COVID-19 test for residents.

The rapid COVID test gives results in 15 minutes. Regular COVID tests can take anywhere from 1 day to more than a week to process, depending on the volume of tests being conducted.

SIU Medical School Researching COVID-19 And Brain Aging

Sep 16, 2020
Robina Weermeijer / Unsplash

Researchers at SIU School of Medicine are exploring possible links between Alzheimer’s Disease and COVID-19.

Kevin Hascup runs a research lab on the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s.His project recently received funding from the National Institutes of Health to study how COVID impacts brain aging.

COVID-19 cases in Williamson county have been rising significantly since mid-August. On September 10th, the Franklin-Williamson Bicounty Health Department reported 46 new cases in Williamson county.

While some of the cases are connected to outbreaks in long-term care facilities, Director of Health Education Carrie Eldridge said community spread is a significant factor.


In his COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Governor JB Pritzker said nine out of 11 regions in the state are showing decreased positivity rates of the virus.  However, he added, region four, in the Metro East, is continuing to see high rates of community spread.

Treating COVID-19 With Plasma Therapy

Sep 2, 2020

The FDA has recently issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19. Southern Illinois Healthcare has been participating in an extended access program, treating southern Illinoians with plasma.

Kane Reinholdtsen /

Governor JB Pritzker holds a press briefing on the state’s current response and action plan for managing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Illinois.

The live stream will begin at 2:00 p.m.

Luisella Planeta Leoni / Pixabay.

The FDA is continuing to warn consumers about contaminated hand sanitizer.

Over 150 hand sanitizers are currently included on the FDA’s warning list. These products are contaminated with methanol or 1-propanol, both of which are toxic if ingested. Methanol can also be absorbed through broken skin on the hands.

Carol DesLauriers with the Illinois Poison Center said there’s a particular concern about young children ingesting these products, which often come in colorful containers or have added scents that smell appetizing.

Illinois Doctors Encourage Wearing Masks

Jul 31, 2020
A woman wears a face mask while shopping.
Anrita1705 / Pixabay

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Illinois doctors are urging people to wear masks in public to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Doctor Robert Panton, president of the Illinois State Medical Society, said wearing a mask is about protecting the community.

Jackson County Reports Record Number Of COVID-19 Cases

Jul 27, 2020

Jackson County reported record numbers of COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

With 31 cases reported on Saturday and 38 on Sunday, the department issued a public health alert directed toward young people. Almost seventy percent of recent cases have been in people in their teens to mid-twenties. The department warns that younger people need to take action immediately to halt the spread of the coronavirus..

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Getty Images

Governor JB Pritzker holds a press briefing on the state’s current response and action plan for managing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Illinois. The live stream will begin at noon.

Watch Live | Listen Only

Yearly Physicals Still Critical During A Pandemic

Jul 15, 2020
Crossed arms of a person in a white coat holding a stethoscope.
Online Marketing / Unsplash

Even during a pandemic, it’s important for kids to get their yearly check-ups.

Dr. Jodi Bryant, with Heartland Regional Medical Center, says kids need to have in-person visits and telehealth can’t substitute when it comes to back-to-school physicals.

Carbondale Library Holds Virtual Summer Reading Program

Jul 15, 2020
A girl in a sun hat sitting outside reading a book.
Pezibear / Pixabay

The Carbondale Public Library is offering a virtual reading program this summer.

The theme of this year’s program is Dig Deeper: Read, Investigate, Discover. Kids who take part will explore mountain ranges in a variety of ways.

Francine Wine-Frakowski, children’s librarian, said they’ve adjusted the program to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

FDA Warns Against Methanol In Hand Sanitizers

Jul 6, 2020
A person using hand sanitizer on their hands.
Luisella Planeta Leoni / Pixabay

The FDA is warning consumers about hand sanitizers which may be toxic - because they're made with methanol. There have been no reports of injuries from these hand sanitizers so far, but methanol is not an approved ingredient for hand sanitizer.

Daily COVID-19 Update (July 5)

Jul 5, 2020

New COVID-19 statistics were not released on July 5th, due to the holiday. But Governor JB Pritzker and Public Health Director Dr. Ngoze Ezeke warned the virus remains in the community, and is growing rapidly in other states.

Leaders say social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds will go a long way at preventing a similar spike in cases in Illinois.

Daily COVID-19 Update (July 4)

Jul 4, 2020

Asthe U.S. celebrates Independence Day holiday, state leaders urged Illinoisans to use caution when celebrating this weekend.

New COVID-19 statistics were not released on July 4th, due to the holiday. But Governor JB Pritzker and Public Health Director Dr. Ngoze Ezeke warned the virus remains in the community, and is growing rapidly in other states.

Local Health Center Receives Grant For Dental Services

Jul 2, 2020

Community Health and Emergency Services, Inc. is one of several organizations receiving grant money to help provide dental services during the coronavirus pandemic.

The money will be used to bring on additional staff. CEO Fred Bernstein said they are expecting the extra help will be needed to handle back-to-school dental appointments.

US Capitol
Liam James Doyle | NPR

The Senate Health Committee discusses plans for reopening schools and offices that have been shuttered by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Local Hospitals Loosen Visitor Restrictions

Jun 29, 2020
Patients hand with monitors attached

As Illinois continues to Phase 4 of re-opening, local hospitals are loosening visitor restrictions.

SIH will now allow one visitor for non-COVID-19 patients, as well as one support person for patients undergoing surgical procedures. Visitors will be allowed for COVID-19 patients in end-of-life situations.

The White House
Annette Elizabeth / NPR

The White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Pence, is holding a briefing at the Department of Health and Human Services. Watch the remarks live.

The entire State of Illinois is set to move into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan on Friday.

Aline Ponce / Pixabay

As Illinois continues to re-open, one challenge facing many families is childcare.

Lori Longueville, director of Child Care Resource and Referral at John A. Logan College, said there has been an increase in families looking for childcare, as their traditional options, like summer camps, have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

It’s a problem that continues to grow, she said, as people who have been furloughed or working remotely return to their offices.

Now that the State of Illinois has released guidelines to help school districts prepare for the return of students to the classroom this fall, the state's leading health official says it's time to get young people ready from a health standpoint.

Southeast Missouri State University has announced what the upcoming Fall 2020 semester will look like amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


The State of Illinois rolled out its guidance for in-person school learning to return this fall.

During a special briefing Tuesday, Governor J.B Pritzker said one of the most essential mitigations will be face coverings.


This week non-profit agencies in eight southern Illinois counties will receive 400-thousand dollars to help with relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will be distributed in 61 different grants throughout the week.

Carbondale City Hall to Reopen June 15

Jun 12, 2020

Carbondale City Hall is planning to reopen on Monday, June 15.

Face masks or face coverings will be required to enter City Hall, and there will be plexiglass and social distance markers at locations where employees interact with the public.