Christine Herman

Christine Herman spent nine years studying chemistry before she left the bench to report on issues at the intersection of science and society. She started in radio in 2014 as a journalism graduate student at the University of Illinois and a broadcast intern at Radio Health Journal. Christine has been working at WILL since 2015.

UPDATE: As the case count continues to rise, information on this story is moving quickly and may be out-of-date. We recommend checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ways to stay safe and this John Hopkins tool for the most recent data

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to tick up nationwide, local public health workers are faced with the challenging task of ensuring those at risk take proper precautions. 

Public Health Administrators Julie Pryde and Monica Hendrickson joined Illinois Public Media’s statewide talk show, “The 21st,” to discuss the impact on local public health departments -- and concerns about "inadequate" testing.


Coronavirus is spreading across the Midwest, and health officials are scrambling to stem the disease -- or prepare for a potential epidemic. Side Effects will keep you updated on this evolving story and share reports from partner stations across the Midwest -- including news of a school closing in Indiana and the first case in Missouri. 

After Rebecca and Bruce Austin gave birth to their daughter, they struggled to get pregnant again. So they signed up to become foster parents.

“I wouldn’t change it for anything,” says Rebecca, reflecting on the past nine years. 


Americans are divided on lots of issues. But a new national survey finds that people across the political spectrum agree on at least one thing: Our health care system needs fixing.


The United States spends more than $3 trillion on health care every year. That comes out to about double the spending per person than other wealthy nations—yet with worse health outcomes in comparison.


Illustration by Tamara Cubrilo

When José moved his family to the U.S. from Mexico nearly two decades ago, he had hopes of giving his children a better life. But now he worries about the future of his 21-year-old-son, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder last year.

Losing a loved one to gun violence can cause anxiety, stress and other mental health symptoms. So can simply living in an environment where violence is common.

But experts say early intervention and support can help prevent some of those negative, long-term consequences.


A small but growing number of U.S. women are choosing to have their babies at home. In more than 30 states, including most of the Midwest, it’s legal for certified professional midwives – trained specifically in home birth – to assist them.

Across much of the Midwest, maternal and infant death rates are high—especially among African-Americans. So doctors, public health agencies and non-profit organizations are searching for solutions.

Among them is Sistering CU in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. It offers free home visits from trained volunteers to families with babies up to six months in age. It also recently launched a support group for new parents.


An Illinois Senate bill aims to help children who are at risk of entering state custody because of issues caused by untreated mental illness. The measure comes as states grapple with ways to help parents who face a heartbreaking choice: giving up custody to obtain expensive treatment for a child.


Measles is a potentially deadly illness that is spreading in many parts of the world. Thanks to vaccines, the disease was eliminated from the U.S. almost two decades ago.

But measles outbreaks have sprung up ever since.


Research shows African-Americans are less likely to access treatment for mental illness.

Cultural norms and the stigma associated with having a mental illness are partly to blame, according to Shardé Smith, assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ashoor Rasho has spent more than half of his life alone in a prison cell—22 to 24 hours a day. The cell was so narrow he could reach his arms out and touch both walls at once.

A law professor in Illinois wants to put a stop to a medical practice that she says treats women’s bodies like cadavers. 

Across most of the U.S., teaching hospitals allow medical students to conduct pelvic exams on female patients without their knowledge or explicit consent. 


Stress is a normal part of life. And there’s even such thing as a “good” level of stress that keeps us going, according to psychology researchers Sanda and Florin Dolcos at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

But severe stress can interfere with day-to-day living, and this can be particularly challenging during the holiday season, they say.

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