Coronavirus: What You Need To Know

The new coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have interrupted our lives in countless ways. Our coverage details the medical issues surrounding coronavirus -- and the way it's changing the Midwest.

Courtesy of Chelsea Reed

On their last phone call, Chelsea Reed says her “proud” mother broke down, distraught about fears of dying alone in her long-term care facility, Rosewalk Village on Indianapolis’ east side.

“She had been calling me in tears, not wanting to die there,” Chelsea says about her 61-year-old mom, Vanessa.

Justin Hicks / IPBS

The Miami Correctional Facility is getting more dangerous.

When University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign officials decided to reopen in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, they launched an ambitious plan to keep the virus at bay. The approach included mandatory twice-a-week testing, using a saliva-based test developed by its own researchers.

Amid COVID Surge, Hospitals Scramble To Find Beds For Patients

Nov 19, 2020

As COVID-19 cases rise dramatically across the Midwest, hospitals in Colorado and Nebraska are calling Kansas in desperate search of beds for new patients. But Kansas hospitals are asking them for the same.

November has brought on the strongest surge yet of the coronavirus across the region — and that’s before Thanksgiving gathers families together.

“The entire Midwest is on fire,” says Steven Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The continued stress from COVID-19 has heightened mental health problems nationwide. And some experts say that has led to an increase in drug overdoses.

For Thanksgiving this year, Kurt Beard was planning to travel from Indianapolis to Ohio and meet family for an outdoor hike, but as he watched COVID-19 rates spike he decided even that was too risky. Instead, his family is ordering pizza, video chatting with relatives and playing games.

However, when weighing spending time with elderly family members versus the coronavirus threat, Beard is conflicted.

COVID-19 Surge Strains Midwest Hospitals

Nov 13, 2020
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.

The recent COVID surge was enough to push BJC Healthcare to start deferring some scheduled procedures at hospitals in the St. Louis area. In Columbia, where the University of Missouri is located, hospitals aren’t there yet.

But it’s not out of the question.


Some Indiana universities are turning to COVID-19 exit-testing ahead of students leaving campus before Thanksgiving. But while some campuses are offering testing as an option, others are requiring it. 

Aime'e Elliott

Earlier this year, Aime’e Elliott couldn’t keep any solid foods down while pregnant with son Jacion. So the 28-year-old Indianapolis woman called a community group before even considering her doctor.

Connie Kuntz/WNIJ

Sandra Martell is in a tough spot. As public health administrator in northern Illinois’ Winnebago County, Martell was threatened with lawsuits from several area bar owners after she included them on a list of businesses allegedly defying the governor’s orders to halt indoor dining. 

In some ways, this Halloween season is no different than in years past — despite COVID-19. Haunted houses still offer the creepy clowns and chainsaw chases that thrill-seekers have grown accustomed to. Young people making the transition from trick-or-treating are another annual staple.

Hilary Powell

At a time when they need her the most, Teshezia George says she’s forced to shutter her shelter doors. That leaves women who have fled domestic violence to sleep in unsafe spaces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention // CCO

Pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine and receive FDA approval. In the meantime, states are finalizing plans to distribute the vaccine — and overcome potential challenges. 

Note: This piece contains descriptions of violence and self-harm that may be disturbing to some readers. 

In late June, Danielle was the only correctional officer working in the medical unit at the Miami Correctional Facility when she heard a noise coming from the bathroom. She knew an inmate had gone in, but Danielle needed someone with her to investigate — entering a men’s bathroom by herself was against policy, she said. She tracked down a nurse, then opened the door. 

Courtesy of Barbara Allen

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Barbara Allen’s life became more complicated overnight.

Allen, 39, lives in Springfield, Illinois, where she cares for people who have disabilities and live in group homes. As an essential worker, she never stopped working full-time. Then schools closed and she was forced to navigate virtual learning with seven children at home. (She’s raising her three sons plus her sister’s children — ranging from kindergarten through high school).

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