Optimistic outlook from analysts on Abbott Laboratories for 2021

By Kari McMahon
Medill Reports

Abbott Laboratories, a medical devices and health care company established in 1888, is one of the few companies equipped to face uncertainty. Now, Abbott may be facing its biggest challenge yet: an economic and health crisis combined.

Over the last 132 years, Abbott, located in Lake Bluff, Illinois, has overcome many obstacles. When the stock market crashed in 1929 and the U.S. entered the Great Depression, Abbott listed its stock on the New York Stock Exchange and continued to expand. During the AIDS epidemic, which began in 1981, Abbott rose to the challenge and received approval for the first licensed test to identify HIV in the blood. A year after the Great Recession, in 2010, Abbott became the largest pharmaceutical company in India.

Now Abbott’s biggest challenge is tackling the global impact of the coronavirus. On Jan. 19, the U.S. had its first outbreak of the coronavirus, and in the following months, cases have continued to rise. The total number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 is 112,967 as of June 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Life as a COVID-19 nurse

By Michael Thomas
Medill Reports

Life as a nurse during COVID-19 has been challenging, and for nurse practitioner Ampora Gonzales, it’s become a new way of life.
“This has become my new normal, not seeing or spending time with my family,” Gonzales said.

Photo at top: Nurse practitioner Ampora Gonzales suited up to take care of COVID-19 patients. (Michael Thomas/MEDILL)

Managing your money during a pandemic

By Michael Thomas
Medill Reports

Managing your money during a pandemic can be difficult, and many were not prepared for this economic crisis. Financial advisor Nicole Lujan of Southern California says the time to start planning your financial future is now. “Preparing for your financial success is always smart and is something you should start now,” she said.

Photo at top: A stack of credit cards. (Michael Thomas/MEDILL)

Issues filing for Florida unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) issued a statement Monday calling for the U.S. Department of Labor Investigator General to investigate the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s failure to implement unemployment benefits that were expanded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, citing that only 28% of requests for the benefits had been processed.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has dismissed Sen. Schumer and Sen. Wyden’s request as partisan, systems designed by the department have had difficulty processing the millions of unemployment requests filed by Floridians since mid-March. Gov. DeSantis even compared the system to a “jalopy” that tried to race in the Daytona 500.

Local officials like State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-47) have dedicated their efforts to informing Floridians of how to file claims in this difficult time. “This governor has painted a very rosy picture of the unemployment process, blaming the people of Florida for any problems that are taking place,” said Rep. Eskamani.

Rep. Eskamani hosts a weekly Facebook Live briefing to answer questions about the unemployment process. Before a recent town hall, she received 11 pages of questions on a broad range of topics, ranging from technological issues with filing on the mobile site, to difficulty receiving backpay after waiting several months for benefits, and to inconsistent messaging about the requirements for independent contractors.

Rep. Eskamani has donated her legislative salary via Venmo and Cash App to Floridians whose unemployment claims have not been processed yet. “I felt like it was inappropriate for me to get paid when so many folks aren’t getting paid from their tax dollars,” said Rep. Eskamani

Photo at top: The wait queue to enter the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT website, which is where Floridians file for unemployment benefits. (

Michigan high school students offer free virtual tutoring amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Bre’onna Richardson
Medill Reports

High school students from International Academy in Bloomfield, Michigan are offering free online tutoring and reading programs so that no student gets left behind. Their ultimate goal is to solve educational inequality. You can visit the group’s website here. You can also visit their Instagram page at @helpinghandssfs.

Photo at top: Helping Hands co-founder, Adrianna Kallabat, virtually tutors student in math. (@helpinghandssfs/Instagram)

A world without sports

By Tony Garcia, Yousef Nasser, Josh Skinner and Allegra Zamore
Medill Reports

In a matter of hours, the sports world changed. This half-hour documentary recounts those harrowing days leading up to the cancellation of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and how COVID-19 changed the sports landscape as we know it. From Texas to Germany, from collegiate swimmers to a sports psychologist, we set out to tell the stories of those in the sports world affected by the coronavirus.

Photo at top: A World Without Sports.(Leila Nasser)

Keeping the spirit: Religious groups adapt to COVID-19 but challenges persist

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Instead of preaching to a live crowd, replete with white-haired parishioners and toddlers wobbling up and down the nave, Pastor Ryan Kapple has found himself facing the empty pews, delivering sermons via livestream to no one in particular.

High-definition cameras track and record Kapple’s every move and turn of phrase, transmitting his services via Facebook Live to the 300 or so members who frequent Leawood Presbyterian Church in suburban Kansas City.

Like nearly every institution in American life, places of worship — churches, synagogues, mosques and the like — have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus and subsequent social distancing measures.

No longer are Christians able to physically gather as one, to sway to sweet hymnals and nod their heads when a verse speaks to them. No longer are Jews able to join together at the synagogue for weekly Shabbat dinners, and no longer are Muslims able to lay side by side in the mosque to pray.

But amidst the uncertainty and lack of physical meetings, religious leaders have turned to online platforms to practice their faith with community members. These measures are hardly a substitute for in-person worship, but they allow people of faith to find support from their community and their religion at a time when so much else remains up in the air.

“Gathering is essential to institutions of faith, and gathering is part of the human experience,” Kapple said. “It’s been a challenge, definitely, adjusting to our new normal.”

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Walgreens’ weakness can continue during painful post-COVID recovery, analysts say

By Henry Ren
Medill Reports

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. has traded near a seven-year low since executives said in early April that comparable sales started to decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting Wall Street’s concerns about the company’s post-shelter-in-place recovery in what is likely a recession.

Walgreen’s comparable sales rose 26% in the first three weeks of March as U.S. consumers stockpiled prescriptions and cleaning products, Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe said during the second-quarter earnings conference call on April 2. However, comparable sales shrank after March 21, when stay-at-home orders were enforced across the U.S.

“We are confident that this is a temporary situation, and we would expect to see some stabilization of sales trends over time,” Kehoe said.

However, some analysts are worried that the weakness of in-store purchases may pose significant challenges to Walgreen’s domestic and international sales over the coming months.

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