March 19, 2020

The Coronavirus is something we want to put behind us

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

The Coronavirus is a pandemic that most of us don't understand, but we are learning.

This disease has taken over 9,000 lives and made over 220,000 more people sick. We've heard via television about it starting in China and its impact even before arriving in America.

So far this is what we know about Coronavirus. The disease is life threatening. If the disease does not kill you, there is a chance you will be very sick with severe respiratory problems. Thousands of respirators are needed across the country because of the nature of the disease.

The virus is teaching us that we are a fragile human race. We are vulnerable to disease, death and chaos. Who wants to be in an intensive care unit of a hospital on a respirator?

Our masses of wealth can disappear almost overnight. The stock market has fallen like a rock. As of this writing, everything that the stock market gained in the three years that Trump has been President has been wiped out.

What if it crashes totally? How many companies will go bankrupt and everything people have invested will be gone? We could experience a kind of poverty that our country has not known for a long time.

What was it like during the Great Depression? I remember old folks talking about those hard times. Could we be in for that kind of a difficult time, or even worse?

We are learning that what previously seemed far-fetched and unrealistic, for our great economy and planet, is possible. It just takes one plague to rearrange our lives. One virus cleans out the grocery stores, idles our jobs and robs our bank accounts. One virus immobilizes our society and robs us of the social interaction that we have taken for granted.

Most of us are always looking down the pike for better days and greener pastures. Typically, we are on the hunt for the bigger and the better. We usually don't miss the good things of life until we no longer have them.

Sadly, we spend a lot of life looking beyond or looking back and we miss the present. I'm sure you've heard before that "now" is life's greatest gift. That's why we call it the "present."

The Coronavirus is no "gift" and is certainly something we want to put behind us as soon as possible.

When this is behind us maybe we will feel different about sitting in our favorite restaurant, a beauty salon, house of worship or entertainment venue. Many Americans already look forward to going back to work and resuming paychecks. Hopefully, grocery stores will once again have ample food, toiletries and other basics that we have come to take for granted.

When we are beyond all this, maybe we won't take all that we have for granted, or will we?

Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.

This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of PhotoNews Media. We welcome comments and views from our readers.


March 13, 2020

Illinois schools join national list of temporary closures

Earlier today, Illinois announced all schools K-12, both public and private, will be closed until March 31 starting after next Tuesday's election primaries.

"All of these choices have cascading effects for citizens and vulnerable populations when it comes to food access, safety, childcare, and social services," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement earlier today. "We’ve seen what happens in places that didn’t move with urgency. I ask all of you not to hesitate to do the right thing for your family, your friends, and your community. One small step at a time, we will get through this together."

Pritzker ordered the closing of every school in the state until March 30 starting Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus pandemic. The number of confirmed cases in Illinois rose to 46 earlier today.

The state's chief lawmaker hopes that social-distancing will slow the spread of the virus.

Almost two million students will not be returning to classrooms next week. This also means no practices for sport teams, practice for scholastic and performing arts groups and the postponement of meetings normally held on high school campuses around the state.

Other states and large cities around the country have announced school shutdowns this week over to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. DC, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin have closed schools for until the end of the month or longer.

Earlier in the week, the governor called on the public to call off any event or gathering of 250 people or more. He also asked that all events with one thousand or more people in attendance be canceled or postponed immediately.

Basketball state tournament crushed, Spring prep sports season not looking good

A little more than hours after the NCAA canceled the entire spring championship season, the Illinois High School Association released a statement last night ending its Illinois winter sports championship series. That meant the annual state finals for boys basketball, scholastic bowl, drama & group interpretation, music, debate and journalism were nixed over concerns related to the spread COVID-19 virus in the United States.

"We appreciate the patience and understanding that we have received from everyone involved in this process over the past 72 hours," said Executive Director Craig Anderson. "We have stressed the fluidity of this situation and have been transparent about the possibility that a suspension or cancellation could occur. While we had support from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Peoria City/County Health Department to continue our events with limited spectators, it has become untenable to continue the events among our member schools."

The Class 1A boys basketball tournament was a mere 17 hours from tipping off under a new policy allowing just 60 fans for each team to be present when the plug was pulled. Dreams of winning a state title zapped for hundreds of athletes around the state.

He added, "Multiple schools who are participating or hosting these sports and activities have been forced to withdraw from those roles, clarifying the need for the IHSA to take definitive action. The Board considered suspending the events, but after deliberate discussion, did not believe that was a realistic option within the timeline. We feel for everyone who has been impacted, but must put the health and safety of all involved ahead of these events."

As of today, there have been 32 confirmed cases of the virus in Illinois. All reported cases appear to be in the Cook and surrounding counties in upstate Illinois.

With the college sports canceled for the remainder of the academic year, the question of what happens to prep sports is still up in the air.

"It is too early to make any decisions regarding IHSA spring state final tournaments," explained Anderson in a prepared release. "We respect the NCAA’s decision to cancel its spring championships, but also recognize that the exposure and travel by our high school teams is not as expansive as collegiate teams. At this juncture, we recommend that all IHSA spring sport teams consult their local health departments, and follow their recommendations on if and how to proceed with practices and regular-season contests."

Locally, the Champaign Unit 4 announced the school district will immediately cancel all travel, competitions and community gatherings from Thursday, March 12, through Sunday, April 5, 2020. The Urbana, St. Joseph-Ogden, Unity and Heritage school districts, on recommendation from the county public health department suspended all travel, competitions and community gatherings until April 5.

March 12, 2020

Ebertfest, Illinois Marathon cancelled this spring due Coronavirus pandemic

Today, the 22nd installment of the Roger Ebert’s Film Festival has officially been canceled along with this year's Illinois Marathon. Both events become victims in the fight to thwart the spread of the Coronavirus now spreading throughout North America and the European continent.

Event organizers announced today that the 2020 Ebertfest, as it more affectionately know as, has been canceled amid concerns about the new coronavirus scheduled for April 14-17, 2021, at the Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

Rohit Sarathy runs the Illinois Marathon in 2019
Rohit Sarathy, from San Francisco, CA, runs to a 202nd place overall finish at the 2019 Illinois Marathon. He finished 165th out of 694 male competitors with a time of 3:28:49 at last year's race on April 27. Organizers postponed this year's race and are hoping to schedule the 2020 installment later this year. Use the PhotoNews Photo Search tool on the right to find more photos. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

The shutdown comes on the heels of an interim policy by University of Illinois made public on Wednesday. The new policy effective March 13 by the campus restricts gatherings of more than 50 people.

That policy also affected the decision by promoters of the annual Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon to cancel this year's race in April. All activities on the original race weekend April 23-25 have been postponed according to a post of Facebook. The official race site has yet to update with cancellation and refund information.

According to the post, the message ended on an upbeat note that the race promotion team are working with the University to set a fall date.

"...we are overjoyed to be working with University officials to confirm a NEW race weekend date sometime in the second half of the year!" the post said. "We care about our participants and will be sharing more information on what your options are for the 2020 race weekend in the coming days."

Related Links:

2016 Illinois Marathon Photo Gallery

2018 Illinois Marathon Photo Gallery

Coronavirus creates a little March Madness of its own

Use the search feature to find more photos from this game in 2018
A Pinckneyville student fan cheers for his team during their Class 2A semifinal game against Winnebago on March 9, 2018. Due to the spread of the Coronavirus over the past several months, the IHSA will limit attendance at this year's Class 1A and 2A basketball state finals. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

While professional sporting events and college tournaments around the country are being postponed or canceled, this weekend's Illinois High School Association boys small school basketball tournament will go on. Although there is a small twist.

The association said in a release this morning that it will limit attendance to just 60 fans per team based on recommendations from Peoria City/County Health Department in consultation with the Illinois Department of Public Health. The attendance limit for the remaining games in the 2020 IHSA Boys Basketball State Series, as well as at other IHSA events, is being put into place to preemptively reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 among athletes and spectators.

"This was a difficult decision shaped by thoughtful deliberation set against a truly unprecedented backdrop," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "IHSA Basketball is America’s Original March Madness, and we recognize that this tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the competing teams, communities and fans. Ultimately though, we have to put the health and safety of the students, along with the general public, ahead of the spectacle of the event. This is and remains a fluid situation. It is important that our member schools and fans understand that events outside any of our control could lead to further changes over the coming hours and days."

The 60-spectator per school limitation will be in effect across all remaining basketball games at the regional level and up this season. Basketball and individual team fans follow the games via online stream or on broadcast television (follow this link to view the complete list of broadcasts).

With the attendance limit in place the March Madness Experience will be not operate this year.

Fans unable to gain entrance to the venue will be granted full refunds will be available for any tickets already purchased for the remaining contests according to the release issued by the IHSA.

Other sports and activities administered by the association that will be impacted by the interim attendance policy are the upcoming Debate, Drama & Group Interpretation, and Scholastic Bowl state series. The scholastic bowl, debate and drama state finals will also be closed to the public.

Who will decide your death?

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

After battling multiple sclerosis for twelve years my wife was in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital. The care had been good and everyone was attentive.

The physician in charge of her care pulled me aside one day and said, "Glenn, you know, there comes a time for all of us and your wife has suffered with this disease for a long time. Don't you think it's time we let her go on?"

He then added, "We can let her go on or we can try to extend her life as long as possible."

"Doc," I replied, "I want her to live as long as possible."

"Good enough," he said, "That's what we will try to do."

She lived about two weeks or so after that conversation.

During those two weeks she spent quality time with family, her sons and I. She had visitors who had conversations with her. Before her death she was able to speak clearly to me and state her thoughts and wishes.

I remember the day we had to take her back to the nursing home that she ate one of the better meals that she had eaten in several weeks. Those two weeks was time that I know she would not have wanted to have given up, nor would I.

I have found it interesting looking back now that a couple of the nurses at the nursing home stated to me the day that we got her back to the nursing home, "Glenn, we are so sorry."

It was like they were saying they were sorry about my wife's death and looking back, that's exactly what they were talking about. It was like the hospital had said to the nursing home staff, "There is nothing more to be done and it's time to let her die."

My question all along has been did they let her die, or did they push or move her death along a little faster?

It seemed after the last meal that she enjoyed, that she suddenly started going downhill fast. She became quieter, groggy and eventually lulled into a sleep in which she never woke up and passed away.

A friend of mine had a stroke recently.

"After seven days, Medicare will give the hospital an ultimatum. Either she is going to get better or they will tell the hospital to unhook her and let her die," a lady who I know who used to work in the hospital said. She had a living will and so the hospital staff used the living will stating, "This is what she wants."

I've taken note lately that every place I go is pushing a living will document at me.

I'm going to have one, but I'll write it. I don't need an insurance provider or Medicare writing my living will for me. Whose advantage is the living will for if they have written the document and I have merely signed it? It's more for their bottom line.

Your life is worth more than the bottom line. We all will likely be out of control at the end of life. Don't make it so easy for those who don't even know you to take your life away from you.

Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.

This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of PhotoNews Media. We welcome comments and views from our readers.


March 11, 2020

Republican primary candidate Casey Chlebek plans bill to curb abortion and addiction if elected to US Senate

If successful in the general election this fall, Casey Chlebek announced today that he would introduce the C.H.L.E.B.E.K. ACT – Congressional Historic Legislation for Endowment of Birth Equality Knowledge within his first 100 days if elected to the office of US Senate.

Chlebek, who is running for the US Senate as Republican in Illinois, ultimately has his sights set on challenging Senator Dick Durbin in November to help the country "return to an age of openness and accountability that used to be the cornerstones of a democratic system that built the greatest country in the world".

First, Chlebek will have defeat four other contenders for the seat that includes former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, Vietnam veteran and Harvard educated radiologist Robert Marshall and Tom Tarter, another doctor who specialized urology and cancer surgery. Peggy Hubbard, the only female contender, a veteran of the United States Navy and also a former law enforcement officer, also challenges Chlebek to represent the Illinois republicans in Washington.

The C.H.L.E.B.E.K. ACT would require that a total of ten one-hour classes be taught at all public schools on the sanctity of human life. These classes would include topics such as how to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, addiction, drug abuse, gun violence and euthanasia and they would cover the entire lifespan from conception to death.

"In a time when violence has permeated our entertainment and our streets, today’s youth have a diminished sense of the value of the human life," Chlebek said in a statement released earlier today. "Young people today have become immune to violence and the destruction of human life and we need new ideas to make sure that life, in all forms, is perceived as sacred."

His plan would call for segments to be taught by individuals with various areas of expertise including medical and substance abuse professionals, law enforcement officials or counselors.

From Chlebek's perspective "social studies curricula teach our youth on how to be engaged and active citizens, but our schools don’t teach students how to cope with some of the most life-threatening risk factors that today’s youth face at school, at home, in relationships or in their everyday lives".