The Chicago Journal

A Comprehensive Vaccination Imperative Amidst Respiratory Challenges

In the whirlwind of holiday preparations, a clarion call emanates from Illinois health officials, urging residents to safeguard their well-being by embracing the transformative power of vaccination. This plea resonates with heightened urgency as respiratory adversaries, including the persistent COVID-19, RSV, and influenza, intensify their presence across the state. Notably, a stark 17% surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past week has propelled 20 counties into a concerning “medium” community level, as per the discerning assessments of the CDC.

Navigating the Surge: Unpacking the Nuances of COVID-19 Hospitalizations

The statistical landscape paints a compelling portrait of the challenges confronting Illinois, particularly evident in the concerning 17% upswing in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Kankakee County, standing as a lone representative in the Chicago area, bears the label of a “medium” level of hospital admissions. Encouragingly, the county displays signs of progress with a commendable 17% reduction in new admissions over the past week, underscoring the tangible impact of concerted efforts. Nevertheless, the imperative for vaccination rings loud and clear, emphasizing the need for collective resilience.

Regional Resilience: Analyzing Diverse Trends in Hospitalization Dynamics

Zooming into the regional microcosm, a tri-county amalgamation comprising Kane, Kendall, and DeKalb counties showcases commendable resilience with a noteworthy 31.8% decrease in hospitalizations, equating to a reassuring 3.9 admissions per 100,000 residents. Similarly, Will and Grundy counties present a picture of triumph, reporting a substantial reduction of nearly 16%, boasting a reassuring 2.2 admissions per 100,000 residents. While these regional pockets revel in their progress, the broader state grapples with the pervasive challenge of mounting hospital admissions, necessitating sustained efforts.

National Oscillations: Charting the Widening Horizon of COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Beyond the confines of state boundaries, the national canvas paints a disparate narrative. Emergency department admissions for COVID-19 surge by a notable 7.1%, mirroring an overarching 8.6% increase in hospital admissions. This expansive panorama underscores the critical need for vaccination as the primary bulwark against severe illness, demanding a unified commitment to public health on a national scale.

Dr. Sameer Vohra’s Urgent Plea: Mobilizing a Collective Response

In response to the mounting hospitalizations, Dr. Sameer Vohra, the stalwart Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, issues an impassioned plea. He emphatically underscores the indispensable role of vaccines for COVID-19, flu, and RSV in averting the specter of severe illness. Against the backdrop of the imminent Thanksgiving celebrations, Dr. Vohra advocates for a holistic approach, seamlessly combining vaccination with meticulous precautions to ensure a harmonious blend of joy and safety for all.


As the intricate dance of fluctuating hospitalization rates unfolds across Illinois, the resonating imperative to prioritize well-being through vaccination stands unwavering. Dr. Vohra’s impassioned plea reverberates, serving as a guiding light for individuals to embrace preventive measures and contribute actively to the safeguarding of their loved ones. This Thanksgiving, let vaccination stand as the unyielding cornerstone of a celebration marked not only by festivity but, more importantly, by resounding health and enduring happiness.

Illinois Shines: 8 Nursing Homes Recognized as Premier Care Facilities in 2024

In the delicate and often emotionally charged realm of healthcare decisions, families find themselves grappling with the profound choice of placing a beloved family member in a nursing home. The gravity of this decision cannot be overstated, and the quest for a well-regarded facility becomes a critical mission for those who seek the utmost care and support for their loved ones. In 2024, the U.S. News & World Report, a venerable source of healthcare evaluations, unveiled its prestigious rankings, casting a spotlight on eight nursing homes in Illinois for their exceptional performance in both short-term rehabilitation and long-term care.

Illinois Nursing Homes Earn High Praise:

The acknowledgment of eight nursing homes in Illinois as “high-performing” resonates as a significant testament to their unwavering commitment to excellence in both short-term and long-term care. This accolade, bestowed by the U.S. News & World Report, goes beyond mere recognition—it serves as a beacon of trust for families navigating the intricate landscape of healthcare decisions, providing a reliable guide to superior care options and peace of mind.

U.S. News & World Report Methodology:

The comprehensive evaluations conducted by the U.S. News & World Report were a meticulous exploration into the intricacies of Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes, utilizing data from the July 2023 Certified Medicare & Medicaid Services census. Distinguishing itself from routine assessments, the evaluation criteria demanded not just compliance but excellence. To be recognized as one of the best, facilities had to exceed “high-performing” standards in short-term rehabilitation, long-term care, or both. The evaluations scrutinized crucial aspects, including staffing levels, medical outcomes, patient feedback mechanisms, and the efficiency of care processes, ensuring a holistic appraisal of each facility’s dedication to quality care.

National Landscape:

Set against the expansive backdrop of the national healthcare landscape, where 15,007 nursing homes underwent rigorous evaluation, only a select 19% earned the esteemed title of the publication’s best nursing homes. Within this distinguished cohort, 1,918 facilities demonstrated excellence in short-term rehabilitation, 1,353 in long-term care, and a noteworthy 467 achieved high performance in both categories. Among these, eight nursing homes in Illinois emerged as shining exemplars of excellence, not merely regional standouts but national leaders in the pursuit of exceptional care standards.

Illinois’ Pinnacle Performers:

The following nursing homes in Illinois stood out for their high-performing status in both short-term rehabilitation and long-term care, securing a coveted spot among the nation’s best:

  • Burgess Square Healthcare Center, Westmont
  • DuPage Care Center, Wheaton
  • Evenglow Lodge, Pontiac
  • Hickory Point Christian Village, Forsyth
  • Moorings of Arlington Heights, Arlington Heights
  • Radford Green, Lincolnshire
  • The Mather – Evanston, Evanston
  • Wauconda Care, Wauconda


In navigating the challenging and deeply personal terrain of nursing home decisions, these eight facilities in Illinois have not only proven themselves as beacons of excellence but also as pillars of trust. Families seeking top-tier care for their loved ones can confidently turn to these high-performing nursing homes, as recognized by the reputable U.S. News & World Report. Their distinction as premier care facilities in 2024 signifies a commitment to not just meeting but surpassing the expectations of families in need.

Multiple Illinois Schools Rank Among Top Midwest Colleges in Wall Street Journal Rankings

Illinois Shines in Wall Street Journal Rankings

Several prestigious colleges and universities in the state of Illinois have been acknowledged for their commitment to academic excellence and exceptional educational experiences. The Wall Street Journal recently released its highly anticipated rankings of the best colleges in the Midwest, evaluating institutions based on student outcomes, learning environments, and diversity. These rankings provide valuable insights into the educational landscape of the region, highlighting the remarkable achievements of Illinois schools.

Notable Achievements in Small and Mid-Size Colleges

Illinois has emerged as a powerhouse in the realm of higher education, with a strong presence in the Wall Street Journal rankings across multiple categories. In the small college category, Lake Forest College stands out as a top performer, securing the second-best college position in the entire Midwest and an impressive 27th place nationwide. Lake Forest College’s commitment to academic excellence, combined with its nurturing learning environment, has earned it well-deserved recognition.

Another Illinois institution, the University of St. Francis in Joliet, has also made its mark in the rankings. The university’s dedication to providing a transformative education experience has resulted in it being named the ninth-best small Midwestern college. With its emphasis on fostering intellectual growth and personal development, the University of St. Francis continues to attract students seeking a high-quality education.

Illinois Dominates Mid-Size and Large College Rankings

Illinois’s influence in the world of higher education extends beyond small colleges, as the state is well-represented in the mid-size and large college categories as well. The Wall Street Journal rankings feature four Illinois schools among the top 10 mid-size colleges. Leading the pack is the Illinois Institute of Technology, located in the vibrant city of Chicago. Renowned for its focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, the Illinois Institute of Technology has earned its position as the premier mid-size college in the Midwest.

The Chicago area continues to excel in higher education, with Northwestern University securing the second spot on the list of mid-size colleges. Known for its world-class faculty and innovative programs, Northwestern University has become a beacon of academic excellence. The University of Chicago, another prestigious institution in the city, ranks fifth among mid-size colleges, offering a rigorous and intellectually stimulating environment for its students. Additionally, Bradley University in Peoria has carved its niche, securing the tenth position for mid-size schools, showcasing its commitment to fostering well-rounded graduates.

In the large college category, Illinois maintains its dominance with two institutions capturing top spots. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, renowned for its cutting-edge research and diverse academic offerings, has been ranked second among large colleges. Its commitment to providing a comprehensive educational experience has earned it widespread recognition. The University of Illinois Chicago, located in the bustling city of Chicago, follows closely in third place, further solidifying Illinois’s standing as a hub of educational excellence.

DePaul University, a prominent institution in the heart of Chicago, rounds out Illinois’s representation in the rankings by securing the sixth spot for large colleges. DePaul University’s commitment to cultivating a dynamic and inclusive learning community has contributed to its recognition as a top-tier institution.

Wall Street Journal’s Top Five Schools in Each Category:

Small colleges:

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Ind.

Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Ill.

University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Mich.

Albion College, Albion, Mich.

DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind.

Mid-size colleges:

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill.

Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo.

University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.

University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

Large colleges:

University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Mich.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana and Champaign, Ill.

University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, Wis.

These rankings serve as a testament to the exceptional quality of education offered by Illinois colleges and universities. With their focus on academic excellence, vibrant learning environments, and commitment to diversity, these institutions continue to attract and nurture talented students from across the nation and around the world. The recognition bestowed upon these Illinois schools further solidifies the state’s status as a premier destination for those seeking a top-tier academic experience.

Jim McMahon Launches Cannabis Brand in Illinois, Finding Relief and Advocating for Medicinal Use

Former Chicago Bears quarterback, Jim McMahon, renowned for his legendary plays on the football field, has shifted his focus to the world of cannabis. In an exclusive event that drew throngs of devoted Bears fans, McMahon celebrated the launch of “Revenant,” his new cannabis brand, now available in select Chicago area dispensaries. This development marks a significant milestone in McMahon’s journey from football fame to cannabis advocacy.

Jim McMahon’s Personal Journey:

Finding Relief from Pain

McMahon, affectionately known as the “Punky QB,” revealed that he primarily turns to cannabis for its pain-relieving properties. It has proven to be a remarkable remedy for his persistent headaches, offering respite from the challenges that follow a career in professional football. He emphasized, “When you’re partaking, you forget about the pain.”

Returning to Chicago

Despite more than three decades passing since he last threw a pass for the Chicago Bears, McMahon’s bond with the Windy City remains unbreakable. He expressed his gratitude, stating, “It’s always good to be back in Chicago. The fans here always treated me well.”

Revenant’s Launch and Advocacy:

A Cannabis Brand with NFL Roots

McMahon’s Revenant is not just another cannabis brand; it boasts NFL connections. Jim McMahon co-owns this venture with two other former NFL players, aligning their efforts to promote the medicinal benefits of cannabis. They are strong advocates for the cessation of drug testing for cannabis in the NFL, arguing that it should be recognized as a medicinal herb.

A Health Turnaround

At the age of 64, McMahon’s health challenges post-football career are well-documented. He openly discusses his battle with CTE, a degenerative brain condition linked to repeated head trauma. McMahon attributes his condition to his playing days, including a memorable body slam by the Packers’ Charles Martin in 1986. Additionally, he now relies on a crutch due to multiple foot surgeries in the past 20 months. McMahon’s health struggles led to his consumption of up to 100 Percocet pills monthly before he turned to cannabis.

Cannabis: A Life-Saver

Jim McMahon candidly states that cannabis has been a lifesaver for him. It not only rescued him from opioid dependency but also improved his overall quality of life. He emphasized, “It saved my life. It’s saved thousands of peoples’ lives by getting off the opioids.” He described the transition from opioids to cannabis as a transformation that allowed for improved cognitive function and a clearer, pain-free existence.

Overcoming Dark Thoughts

McMahon courageously shared his personal battle with dark thoughts, acknowledging that he once contemplated suicide, a challenge that some of his former teammates succumbed to. However, cannabis provided a new lease on life, free from pain and the burden of negative thoughts. He affirmed, “it opened my eyes to a new way of life. A life without pain, a life without these bad thoughts.”

Reflections on the Bears and Advice for the Future:

A New Chapter

As for his connection with the Chicago Bears today, McMahon confessed that he doesn’t closely follow the team anymore. When questioned about advice for current Bears quarterback Justin Fields, McMahon responded with a hearty laugh, “I wish him luck.” He then humorously alluded to the city’s football culture, emphasizing its long-standing focus on defense and the revered position of the running back.


In summary, Jim McMahon’s transition from a football icon to a cannabis advocate reflects a compelling journey of personal discovery, health improvement, and a commitment to advocating for the benefits of medicinal cannabis. His story underscores the potential for cannabis to offer hope and relief to individuals facing chronic pain and mental health challenges.

Minimum wage to go from $7 to $15 this year

Minimum wage: News of an increase in the minimum wage for workers was announced at the start of the year.

Because the federal minimum wage has stood at $7.25 an hour since 2009, workers in more than half of the states have advocated higher pay.

Several states and cities already have set their own minimum wage rates, but most plan to implement them in 2023.

The news

Higher minimum salaries for this year have been declared in 26 states.

The US payroll specialists at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory said that one more state would join the update in July.

According to the Economics Policy Institute, 23 states, including Washington, DC, began implementing the higher compensation on January 1.

As a result, eight million workers will be impacted.

There will be wage increases ranging from 23 cents to $1.50.

States implementing the minimum wage increase

  • Delaware: $10.50 – $11.75
  • Illinois: $12 – $13
  • Maryland: $12.50 – $13.25
  • Massachusetts: $14.25 – $15
  • Michigan: $9.87 – $10.10
  • Missouri: $11.15 – $12
  • Nebraska: $9 – $10.50
  • New Jersey: $13 – $14.13 (includes inflation adjustment)
  • New York: $13.20 – $15 (in and around the city), $14.20 (upstate New York)
  • Rhode Island: $12.25 – $13
  • Virginia: $11 – $12

States that will implement the increase later this year

  • Connecticut: $14 – $15 (July 1 implementation)
  • Florida: $11 – $12 (September)
  • Nevada: $9.50 – $10.25 (firms with benefits), $10.50 – $11.25 (firms without benefits)
  • Oregon: $13.50 (July 1 implementation)

Read also: Real estate market hopes for consistency this year


Inflation hit a 40-year high, and people were having difficulty keeping up with rising costs, so last summer, a critical choice was made.

Sebastian Martinez Hickey of EPI said:

“The fact that there’s high inflation really just underscores how necessary these minimum wage increases are for workers.”

“Even before the pandemic, there was no country in the United States where you could affordably live as a single adult at $15 an hour.”

The pandemic and the economic recovery made the wealth divide in America painfully clear.

Over the past two years, significant employers’ initiatives to raise the minimum wage have been sparked by poor working conditions and low salaries.

Additionally, the pandemic contributed to a prolonged gap between the supply and demand for labor.


Due to a personnel shortage that affected employers during the majority of the year, the average annual hourly salary increased.

Even when workers in competitive industries learned their new pay was higher than inflation, skyrocketing inflation exceeded most compensation.

Californian economics professor Michael Reich said:

“The story is different because wages have been increasing at the low-end, much faster than inflation and much faster than in middle- or high-wage jobs.”

“And that means that many workers, even in the $7.25 states, are already getting paid above the minimum wage.”

“Even though the minimum wage might go up by 7% in many states and cities, labor costs aren’t going to go up anywhere as much as they have in the past,” Reich added.

“Because they have already gone up. That also means that prices aren’t going to go up at [places like] restaurants.”


Joe Biden, the US president, launched initiatives to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

In 2022, he signed an executive order raising the salaries of contractors and employees of the federal government to that amount.

However, Congress would need to approve any significant changes before they could occur in the country.

Although a fee increase was suggested, it wasn’t included in the legislation for the 2021 Covid-19 relief.

Kevin Werner of the Urban Institute, contends:

“As the gap between that and the federal minimum wage increases, it will be interesting to see if that can kind of spur more momentum for more states to increase their wages or try to get more momentum on the federal level.”

According to a September report from the Urban Institute, the $15 per hour pay adjustment would have an influence on 56 million workers.

As a result of the new minimum wage, the study simulated two scenarios in which no jobs were lost and two scenarios in which job losses were more remarkable.

“Even in our highest job loss scenario, we still found that on average, the average worker was better off, and that poverty declined overall,” said Werner.

“Even though some individual people who lost their jobs may have been worse off, the net effect was still positive.”

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According to Kevin Werner, the bulk of laborers who would be impacted by the $15 minimum wage are older than 25.

The likelihood of relying on the minimum wage is higher for people of color and those living in poverty.

Werner made the point that raising the federal minimum wage would help those in need.

The CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Holly Sklar, maintains that raising the minimum wage can also increase consumer demand.

As a result, the local economy will be able to recover.

“Putting needed raises in minimum wage workers’ pockets [is] really the most efficient way you can boost the economy,” said Sklar.

“Those are the people who have to go right back around and spend it.”


These states are raising their minimum wages in 2023. Chart shows where workers can expect higher pay

New Year’s pay boost: these states are raising their minimum wage

Shooting outside Chicago hospital last weekend

Shooting: On Sunday, a judge ordered no bail for a man who shot and killed another outside Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

What happened

The shooting took place in the southwestern suburb of Oak Lawn, Illinois, early Saturday morning.

Prosecutors said on Sunday that Marques Rose, 36, shot and killed a man around two in the morning.

The shooting happened outside the emergency room.

Additionally, prosecutors revealed that Rose was out on bond for another case.

He currently has five felony convictions, including charges of firearms and burglary.

Read also: Shooting in LGBTQ nightclub results in five dead

Before the incident

According to prosecutors, Marques Rose and the victim were at 87th and Vincennes for an evening gathering.

After two people were shot in the area, a large group followed one of the victims to the Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Rose and 28-year-old Brandon McGee, the victim, were members of the group.

Hospital security called the police when the large group arrived on the scene.

The shooting

According to prosecutors, Rose and McGee got into a heated argument.

McGee reportedly pushed Rose to the ground, and people pulled the two apart to cool off.

After some time, Rose returned and shot McGee in the head, killing him instantly.

Rose tried to flee the scene, but the police were already there.

However, they tracked him down and found the weapon under a nearby car.

Prosecutors said surveillance footage and testimony caught the entire event.

Read also: Highland Park mass shooting victims and families file massive lawsuits

The aftermath

The judge refused to order bail for Marques Rose.

They explained that despite the victim pushing Rose to the ground, people separated them to cool off.

The judge also said that a push and a gun are not equal in terms of force.

The gunman, Marques Rose, is due to appear in court on Monday for breaching his bond.


No bail for man accused of shooting another in head outside Advocate Christ Medical Center

Scott Lennox, Chicago resident, threatens Republican candidate

Scott Lennox, a 21-year-old Chicago resident, sent violent threats to the Republican candidate for governor of Illinois, Senator Darren Bailey.

The Chicago resident allegedly called Bailey’s office last Friday.

According to the Cook County Attorney’s Office, Lennox left him a lengthy audio message.

The threats

According to a bond proposal from the prosecutor’s office, Scott Lennox left a string of violent threats via voicemail.

“I’m going to skin Darren Bailey alive, making sure he is still alive … and screaming in ******* pain,” Lennox allegedly said.

“I know where he lives, I know where he sleeps, I know where his kids sleep.”

“Yeah, that’s right, so he better kill himself, and if he doesn’t, I am going to kill him,” the voicemail concluded.

The transcript comes from a document filed in the Cook County Circuit Court.

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Tracing the calls

The voicemails trace back to Scott Lennox through caller ID.

Additionally, the Illinois Secretary of State interviewed Lennox.

According to court documents, he admits to the calls and reads:

“The Illinois Secretary of State Police deemed (Lennox) was not a credible threat and did not arrest (Lennox) or transport him to any location for further questioning.”

The case was referred to the Illinois State Police, who arrested Lennox after questioning and examining his phone.


Scott Lennox appeared in court on Wednesday to face charges of crimes including:

  • Threatening a public official
  • Harassment by electronic communications
  • Telephone harassment.

However, he was given a $ 75,000 bail with electronic surveillance.

Additionally, Lennox must stay away from Bailey, his family and associates.

Finally, Scott Lennox is not allowed to post threatening messages online.

Read also: Biden travels to Oregon, voices support for Kotek and warns of Biden’s influence


Senator Darren Bailey released a written statement from his campaign to address the situation.

“Divisive, inflammatory, and misleading rhetoric is driving hatred across our state as some attempt to label political opponents as dangerous threats.”

“Whether we agree or disagree on policies, we are all Americans,” he continued.

“I pray this young man gets the help he needs.”

Incumbent Democratic Governor JB Pritzker echoed Bailey’s sentiments despite being his opponent.

“The violent rhetoric and division we’re seeing across our country is unacceptable,” he tweeted.

“Hatred in any form has no home in Illinois.”

In addition to being a senator, Darren Bailey is the co-founder and former president of a private Christian school.

Before that, he was the local school board president for the Clay County Public School District.

Schools linked to Bailey are under soft lockdown, prosecutors say.


Chicago man accused of leaving voicemail with death threats at office of Republican candidate for governor