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.

As universities prepare to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester, some are counting on widespread COVID-19 testing to help clamp down on potential outbreaks. 

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, large white tents, with signs reading “Walk-Up COVID-19 Testing,” have been popping up across campus.

Maricel Mendoza is familiar with the work migrant and seasonal farmworkers do. Growing up, her family traveled from Texas to central Illinois every year for her parents’ jobs as contractors with a large seed company. 

“All of my parents’ siblings were migrants, my grandparents were migrants,” Mendoza says. “So it’s just something that was the norm for me.” 

Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago announced Thursday they’ve performed the first successful double lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient in the U.S. 

The Hispanic woman in her twenties was otherwise healthy, but developed a severe case of COVID-19 that resulted in hospitalization, says Dr. Ankit Bharat, Northwestern’s chief of thoracic surgery.

As states move toward reopening their economies, officials are emphasizing the need to expand their capacity to test for COVID-19.

But many say their efforts to ramp up testing are still being hampered by a shortage of supplies. To help fill the gaps, some state public health labs are looking to academic labs for help.

This is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, local public health agencies across the nation have been working to mitigate the spread of the disease -- and to overcome some big obstacles.

This is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19.

Health care workers and first responders face serious risks dealing with people who have COVID-19. Bryce and Brittanny Budimir, a married couple in Kankakee, Illinois, both work on the front lines of the pandemic. 

Illustration with American flag and people
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A majority of Americans believe that while their communities will suffer in the short term from the COVID-19 pandemic, they will eventually recover.

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.

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