Illinois’s Handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic

FLOURISH STORY: Confirmed COVID-19 Cases State and Local Breakdown

By Chris Katsaros and Enrique Luna

For much of April, Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th ward) has been self-quarantining and working from home because somebody in her office was diagnosed with COVID-19. 

She is one of many political leaders urging the public to stay home and practice social distancing  amid the global pandemic.

“I cannot stress enough, you cannot hold church service,” Garza said. “You cannot  have your dogs groomed. You cannot get a haircut. People need to take this seriously.”

Garza’s warning–echoed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov J.B. Pritzker–has been taken to heart by the city and has been slowing the increase in coronavirus cases, even while death rates in the state skyrocketed in mid-April. 

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Help Prevent Spreading COVID-19

By: Chris Katsaros

On March 13, 2020, President Trump addressed the nation with an update on the COVID-19 outbreak. His official proclamation can be found on the White House’s website.

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States…do hereby find and proclaim that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States constitutes a national emergency, beginning March 1, 2020.”

By declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, the President has made certain that he will be using the powers granted to him by the Stafford Act, which allows him to use disaster relief funds to help combat the global pandemic commonly known as the coronavirus.

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Chicago Flu Shot Locations

By: Chris Katsaros

With the number of coronavirus cases rising in the United States, it is critical that Chicagoans are up to date with their flu shots. Recently, a CPS employee was named the sixth coronavirus patient in Illinois.

Here is an interactive map of locations where Chicagoans can get vaccinated for the flu, created from an analysis of data from the City of Chicago Data Portal. Most locations also provide contact information and hours of operation.

It is important to note that these vaccines will not prevent or cure the coronavirus. Unfortunately, a vaccine for the coronavirus is likely more than a year away.

Nevertheless, being in the healthiest state possible is important to help lower the risks of complications and death. If you believe you may have the coronavirus, the CDC recommends contacting your local health care provider.

Google Trends: Biden vs. Sanders; Coronavirus vs. Democratic Primary

By: Chris Katsaros

After a dominating performance on Super Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden has positioned himself as the front-runner in the Democratic election race. Senator Bernie Sanders, however, is still alive thanks to his win in California.

The Illinois Democratic primary will take place on Mar. 17, along with Florida, Arizona, and Ohio. According to an analysis of Google Trends search data, Bernie Sanders has been searched slightly more often than Joe Biden in Illinois this past week.

Biden vs. Sanders in Illinois
Bernie Sanders has the edge over Joe Biden for most searched candidate in Illinois this past week.

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How Theo Epstein Saved the Chicago Cubs

By: Chris Katsaros

Before the Ricketts family purchased the Chicago Cubs on July 6, 2009, they were owned by the Tribune Company. A common criticism among fans was that the Tribune Company did not prioritize winning, and instead cared only about making money.

Predictably, fans were thrilled at the idea of a family owning the Cubs, rather than a media conglomerate. Although they are one of the most popular franchises in North American sports, the way the Cubs organization gained such a large following was frustrating to even the most die-hard fans.

At the time of the Ricketts’s purchase of the team, the Cubs were in the midst of the longest championship drought in North American sports at 101 years.

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Cubs Season Attendance 2007-2016

By Chris Katsaros

The Chicago Cubs are one of Major League Baseball’s most historic franchises. They were one of the founding members of the National League, establishing themselves as the White Stockings in 1876.

Since they officially became the Chicago Cubs in 1903, they have grown to be one of the most popular sports franchises in North America.  Playing their home games at iconic Wrigley Field on the North Side of Chicago, the Cubs regularly draw large attendance numbers.

Chicago Cubs season attendance 2007-2016

The Cubs have gone through several large roster overhauls in the last decade.  They won back-to-back National League Central Division titles in 2007 and 2008, explaining their spikes in attendance those years.

The Cubs were also experiencing the longest championship drought in the history of North American sports. The 2007 and 2008 seasons were both 100 years since their previous title victories in 1907 and 1908, which convinced many that “this was the year.”

In July of 2009, the Ricketts family (founders of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation) purchased the Cubs.  In 2011, they hired Theo Epstein from the Boston Red Sox to be their President of Baseball Operations.

The rebuild of the roster soon began, and by the 2015 season the Cubs were exceeding expectations and made it to the National League Championship Series before getting eliminated 4 games to 0 by the New York Mets.

Finally, in 2016, the Cubs won the World Series, ending the drought at 108 years. The Cubs spent the entire season dominating the league, winning 103 games while having a historically good offense and pitching staff.

While the Cubs have yet to repeat their 2016 success, there is reason to be optimistic on the North Side.  Once called the “Lovable Losers,” the Cubs now see themselves as annual contenders for the World Series.

Data set of the Cubs seasonal attendance from 2007-2016

Will Mayor Lightfoot Go Light on TIF?

By Chris Katsaros and Darius Vinesar

Grassroots activist Tom Tresser pointed at a map of Chicago and said, “No other major city in America has this kind of…infection.”

“It’s what it is, an infection.”

What Tresser was referring to was tax increment financing.

The practice of tax increment financing, or TIF, originated in California in the early 1950’s. Since then, TIF legislation has found some kind of use in every state except Arizona. TIF is used extensively in the Midwest, especially in Chicago for projects such as the 78 and the developments at Lincoln Yards.

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Chicago’s Harbor System

Some of Chicago’s hidden gems are the ten municipal harbors that line the shore of Lake Michigan. These harbors, operated by Westrec Marinas for the Chicago Park District, provide gorgeous views of the city and are conveniently located near several popular Chicago attractions.

The harbors offer seasonal boating for those who would like to rent a slip or mooring can for the boating season, which in Chicago runs from May 1 until October 31. They also offer transient boating for boaters who would like to rent a slip for a shorter amount of time, with reservations made similar to the process of booking a hotel room.

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Google Trends: Juul’s Rising Popularity; iOS v. Android

On September 11, the Trump administration announced that they are moving to ban the sale of e-cigarettes after a recent string of vaping related deaths.

Popular e-cigarette manufacturer Juul has become a hot commodity among teens since its creation in 2017. According to an analysis of Google Trends search data, Juul has been searched far more often than cigarettes have in the past year.

Surprisingly enough, Juul itself is a strong supporter of these bans on flavored e-cigarette products, as a spokesperson for the company recently told to CNBC.

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Quinn: Illinois Pensions Threatening MAP Grants

Pat Quinn photo
Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

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