Covering COVID-19 and John Prine
Don’t think a pandemic that originated in China and one of this country’s most beloved songwriters are connected? Sadly, they are.
Earlier this year I was sent to O’Hare International Airport to cover the COVID-19 virus as it related to air travel to and from travel. You can read one of those stories here in the Washington Post. Part of that coverage was looking at what impact the looming pandemic might have on the global economy. I was part of that team for the Post in reporting the signs that looked ahead.
Then came April. Governors across the U.S., including JB Pritzker in Illinois, ordered a lockdown for most non-essential businesses as the number of cases and deaths started to grow. For the Post, I wrote a feature about Rush Hospital in downtown Chicago that was built specifically for a pandemic. I spent half a Saturday at Rush’s ER and ICU and got to witness the medical staff in action. Here’s the story, and make sure to check out the incredible video that takes you inside one of the most technologically-advanced medical centers in the U.S.
For Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the pandemic is the first real test of her administration, just one year into the job. Here’s a story I wrote that looks at her innovative marketing campaign to convince Chicagoans to stay home during the pandemic. With insight from Kelly Leonard of Second City, the story looks at how humor and viral marketing is setting her administration apart in how it is reaching out to young people or others who aren’t glued to everyday headlines.
Finally, one of the many tragedies to come out of this time is the death of beloved singer-songwriter John Prine. He died at 74 from complications due to the virus, an event that added a lot of heaviness during this very dark time. Before Prine died, I wrote an essay for The Chicago Tribune that looked at why Prine, who lived here until 1980, is such a product of Chicago. After he died, I wrote an essay for The Chicago Reader. I was angry when I heard the news as his death seemed so unnecessary, as do all the deaths that are resulting from COVID-19.
That week and the week later, I was invited to talk about Prine for WGN Radio and a podcast hosted by Ben Joravsky of The Chicago Reader. RIP, John. We all miss you, especially now.