Prep Sports Notebook: Rocket softball team wins, SJO baseball records first shutout

Spartans notch conference win

Adam Price makes a play at first

Adam Price prepares to scoop a throw to first out of the dirt on a play in the top of the sixth inning in St. Joseph-Ogden's home baseball game against St. Thomas More. Price delivered a sacrifice fly to left field to score teammate Taylor Voorhees in the bottom of the third inning. SJO prevailed 9-0 to win the Illini Prairie Conference game.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The St. Joseph-Ogden baseball team improved to 6-1 on the season after a seven-run inning in the bottom of the 4th to cruise past St. Thomas More, 9-0.

Luke Landrus and Taylor Voorhees scattered 2 hits apiece while senior Andrew Beyers tallied 2 RBI. Voorhees and Beyers crossed the plate twice for SJO.

Caleb Ochs earned the win on the mound for the Spartans.

Next up, St. Joseph-Ogden plays two conference games next week. On Monday, SJO hosts Bloomington Central Catholic and travels to Rantoul to take on the Eagles on Thursday.

Unity softball blanks A-O

Ruby Tarr notched pounded out four hits and scored three runs to lead the Unity softball team to a 15-0 win over Argenta-Oreana on Friday. Hailey Flesch also scored three times for the Rockets.

Flesch and Madeline Reed collected a home run apiece on Bomber pitcher Michelle Hollon.

Rockets' Ashlyn Miller included six strikeouts among the 43 pitches she hurled in the four-inning shutout.

Attention high school coaches

We need your help covering your team this spring to help keep fans, college recruiters, and area readers informed. If you are coaching a spring sport at Unity, Uni-High, Urbana High School, or St. Joseph-Ogden, please send us your game or meet results for our Prep Sports Notebook and weekly stats leaders for our All-Area team selection after the season.

The best way to send us box scores and other info is via email to or

Do you have a player on the verge of breaking a school record, signing an LOI, or have a story idea? Don't hesitate to email us.

No foolin', Ochs picks up first win of the season

Caleb Ochs unloads a pitch for St. Joseph-Ogden
St. Joseph-Ogden pitcher Caleb Ochs unloads a pitch during St. Joseph-Ogden's home baseball game against St. Thomas More. Ochs recorded 38 strikes out of the 57 pitches he tossed in his five innings on the bump on April 1 to earn his first win of the season. The Spartan blanked the Sabers on a chilly Friday afternoon in the conference matchup, 9-0. See more photos from this game.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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Good for the heart, golfers have a significantly lower death rate

by American Heart Association

DALLAS -— While golfing was once known as the game of kings, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, says you don’t have to be royalty or a professional player to reap health benefits from hitting the links at your local golf course. Research presented at the Association’s International Stroke Conference in 2020 found that regularly golfing – at least once per month – lowered the risk of death, especially among older adults.

Golfing can provide benefits such as stress reduction and regular exercise. Due to its social nature and typically slower, controlled pace, people of most all ages and physical fitness levels can play the sport.

Paul Dalbey lines up his put on the 6th green at the 2005 University of Illinois Open golf tournament. Time spent outside enjoying nature, social interaction and even the friendly competition of a round of golf is beneficial to one's health.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
"The regular exercise, time spent outside enjoying nature, social interaction and even the friendly competition of a round of golf are all elements that can foster mental and physical wellbeing," said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association and chair of the department of preventive medicine, the Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research and professor of preventive medicine, medicine and pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "The past couple of years have been hard and many of us have picked up some unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as more eating and less physical activity, and we’ve missed the company of friends and family. I think golfing can offer a great opportunity to start venturing back out into an enjoyable activity that can feed our hearts and our souls."

For the study on golfing, researchers from the University of Missouri in Columbia, analyzed data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a population-based observational study of risk factors for heart disease and stroke in adults 65 and older. Out of nearly, 5,900 participants, average age 72, researchers identified nearly 400 regular golfers. During the 10-year follow-up period, death rates for golfers were significantly lower than for non-golfers.[1]

A comprehensive review of research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed more than 300 scientific studies, leading a panel of 25 public health experts to issue an international consensus statement, from several sporting and golf organizations, noting the health and social benefits of golf.

"The American Heart Association recommends most people get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Golfing qualifies as a moderate-intensity exercise, specifically if you are walking an 18-hole course, carrying your golf clubs," said Lloyd-Jones. "While golfing, you’re increasing your heart rate and blood flow, enhancing brain stimulation, improving your balance and socializing. Even if you are riding in a cart and playing a short course of only 9 holes, you’re still being physically active, and we know any movement is better than none."

There are a few safety measures to take into consideration before hitting the greens. Before you start, warm up with a few stretching exercises and be sure to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. Also, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and don’t get overheated. Be aware of the signs of a heat stroke and if you or your fellow golfers show any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 and seek emergency medical help right away:

  • Fever (temperature above 104 °F)
  • Irrational behavior
  • Extreme confusion
  • Dry, hot, and red skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Crystal Lake pool to open for summer fun in May, indoor aquatic center will close temporarily

URBANA -- The Urbana Park District will open the Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center starting Memorial Day, May 30. The outdoor swimming pool and the aquatic park will be open through Labor Day in September.

Meanwhile, the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center will be closed from May 27 through September 5. Operating one swim facility during the summer put less strain on the district's resources and staffing needs.

The outdoor schedule will operate as follows:

Monday – Friday
6 AM – 8 AM Lap Swim/Water Aerobics
8 AM – 11 AM Programming (Nadiators, Swim Lessons, Aerobics, etc.)
11 AM – 12 PM Lap Swim/Water Aerobics
12PM – 12:30 PM Member Early Entry
12:30PM – 7 PM Open Swim

9 AM – 11 AM Programming (Nadiators, Swim Lessons, etc.)
11 AM – 7 PM Open Swim

11 AM – 7 PM Open Swim

"Urbana School District owns UIAC and the Urbana Park District operates it. It takes a great deal of support from both entities to make sure it is operating efficiently, safely, and fiscally responsible," said Leslie Radice, Aquatic Manager.

For people who have already paid for indoor pool memberships or have a credit balance, memberships can be transferred to the outdoor pool at 1401 N. Broadway. Members also can suspend their membership until the indoor pool opens again or receive a refund for the unused balance of the membership.

Radice recommends calling the park district office at (217) 367-1544 to discuss or adjust memberships.

Brassy jazz

Brian Patterson plays trombone at the Rose Bowl in Urbana
Brian Patterson, a member of the U of I Trombone Ensemble, plays a solo during a song at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana on Saturday, March 26. The eight-piece ensemble included four other trombonists, a percussionist, a pianist, and a bass player. The band entertained nearly 30 jazz and music lovers at the Urbana bar. Earlier, the Trombone Ensemble played a tune entitled Outlook, arranged by Patterson. They also covered Whistle While Your Work in the first set and Recorda-Me, originally composed by Joe Henderson when he was 15 years of age. The Rose Bowl Tavern, in collaboration with the University of Illinois School of Music, is hosting shows featuring the talented jazz musicians studying on campus this spring semester.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

COVID-19 second boosters now available for age-eligible county residents

CHAMPAIGN -- Champaign County residents 65 and older can now receive a second Covid-19 booster. Citizens 50 and older with an underlying medical condition are also eligible to receive a second booster.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended on Tuesday, March 29, that "expanded eligibility for an additional booster dose for certain individuals who may be at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. Boosters are safe, and people over the age of 50 can now get an additional booster four months after their prior dose to increase their protection further."

Eligible members of the community may sign-up online at to receive the vaccination at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District office located at 201 W. Kenyon Road in Champaign.

Vaccination appointments are being booked now for April 4 – 22 from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm.

Boosters will also be available from Promise Healthcare, Carle Health, OSF Healthcare, and Christie Clinic. Patients are urged to contact their primary care provider for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Meanwhile, those under the age of 50 and interested in receiving a second booster will have to wait for government approval for the time being. In a release issued today by the CUPHD, the "CDC, in collaboration with FDA and our public health partners, will continue to evaluate the need for additional booster doses for all Americans."

Christie Clinic will offer the booster at most of their primary care offices. According to today's press release, appointments will be limited to Christie patients 50 years old and older. "If patients have an upcoming appointment, they are encouraged to discuss their eligibility with their primary care provider."

Appointments for the second Covid-19 booster at Promise Healthcare can be made by calling (217) 356-1558.

For more information visit to find a vaccine site nearest to you or log into for available appointments at local pharmacies.

Vibrant Urbana soprano set to preform in April

URBANA -- Earlier this week, vocal soloist Elena Negruta revealed dates for three upcoming appearances in Urbana. A seasoned performer, Negruta was born in the Republic of Moldova. At the age of 14, she won first place at the Golden Stork International Youth Talent Festival in Nikolayev located in the now war-torn country of Ukraine.

Soloist Elena Negruta
Photo by Clark Brooks
After immigrating to the United States, she transitioned to classical music and completed her Masters in Vocal Performance at the University of Illinois School of Music. Negruta is known for her ability to captivating renditions and versatile repertoire in baroque, musical theatre, and modern opera.

The soloist's first performance in April will be at Cello Festival 2022. Hosted by Urbana's First United Methodist Church, she will perform this Saturday, April 2, at 3:30pm.

Two weeks later, Negruta returns to the stage at Smith Memorial Hall on the University of Illinois campus as a featured vocal soloist at a Doctoral recital with music director, vocal coach, and pianist Cheryl Forest Morganson. The concert starts at 7:30p and admission is free to the public on April 18.

The last of the three appearances slated for this month is a benefit concert for Ukraine on April 26 in the south lobby of the Music Building at 114 West Nevada in Urbana. The event starts at 7pm.

Below, in a video released in December 2020, the soprano sings Youkali, a piece from the musical "Marie Galante" written by German-American composer Kurt Weill.

St. Joseph-Ogden third-quarter Honor Roll

St. Joseph-Ogden High School Honor Roll This week, St. Joseph-Ogden High School announced the third-quarter Honor Roll and High Honor Roll recipients. To receive honor roll recognition at SJO students must earn a grade point average of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Students whose GPA soared above 3.74 are recognized as High Honor Roll students.

High Honor Roll





Honor Roll





Make this Easter holiday 'Eggstra' special

Photo provided

Family Features -- Easter is about traditions, both old and new, as well as celebrating family and creating lifelong memories. In fact, nearly 8 out of 10 Americans will celebrate the holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation, which often includes egg decorating amongst the fun.

Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to the 13th century. Eggs were once viewed as a forbidden food to some religious entities, so people would paint or decorate them to highlight the end of penance and fasting.

Yet still today, coloring eggs can help bring the whole family together and inspire simple moments of connection and creativity. From dunking eggs in neon dyes to embellishing them with paint, glitter and more, PAAS(r) brand - named after the Dutch word for Easter, "Passen" - offers these expert Easter egg dyeing tips based on its 140 years of experience.

Keep It Clean - Wash your hands in hot, soapy water before and after handling eggs, even if they've already been cooked or decorated. This helps protect you from any bacteria that may be on the egg and protects the eggshell from oil on hands that may make the dye not adhere properly. Make sure an adult supervises all projects to ensure food safety precautions are observed.

Hard Cook, Don't Hard Boil - Although the cooking water must come to a full boil, the pan should be immediately removed from heat so the eggs can cook gently in the hot water. This method produces tender, not rubbery eggs and minimizes cracking.

Banish the Greenish Ring - This harmless but unsightly discoloration sometimes forms around hard-cooked yolks as a result of a reaction between sulfur in the egg white and iron in the yolk. It occurs when eggs have been cooked for too long or at too high a temperature. Cooking eggs in hot, not boiling water then cooling immediately helps minimize this discoloration.

Make Them "Apeeling" - To ensure easily peeled eggs, buy and refrigerate them 7-10 days in advance of cooking. This brief "breather" allows the eggs time to take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

Photo provided

Store Eggs Safely - In the shell, hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated safely for up to one week. Refrigerating them in their original carton prevents odor absorption. Once peeled, eggs should be eaten that day. Piercing shells before cooking is not recommended. If not sterile, the piercer or needle can introduce bacteria into the egg. Also, piercing creates hairline cracks in the shell through which bacteria can enter after cooking.

Tap Into Your Creative Side - You don't have to be highly creative to create an "eggceptional" egg. Use your imagination to create appealing eggs by gluing on fun materials found at craft stores, like fake gems, sequins, trims and ribbons. You can also use paint, including gold or silver metallic paint, to make eggs special. An option like PAAS egg decorating kits can help make the process more convenient and fun.

Find more tips and ideas to bring your family together this Easter at

How to Hard Cook Eggs

Hard-cooked eggs are best when you want a sturdy egg for hiding and to eat when you're done. They are also easier for younger children to handle. Eggs can be hard-boiled or baked to achieve tender eggs perfect for dyeing. Consider these tips from the Easter egg decorating experts at PAAS to cook eggs for decorating:

Hard Boil Directions

  • Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer.
  • Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch.
  • Heat pan over high heat until just boiling.
  • Remove pan from burner.
  • Cover pan.
  • Let eggs stand in hot water about 15 minutes for large eggs. Time may need adjusted for smaller or larger eggs.
  • Cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • Baking Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 F.
  • Place eggs individually in muffin tins to prevent them from rolling while cooking.
  • Cook 30 minutes.
  • Fill large bowl with ice water. Set aside.
  • Remove eggs from oven.
  • Transfer eggs carefully, one-by-one into ice water using tongs.
  • Remove from water after 10 minutes.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • Egg Decorating Kits to Make Egg Dyeing Easy

    There's more than one way to dye an egg. To meet various needs and interests, PAAS offers a variety of kits, including:

    Photo provided
  • Traditional Kits - Deluxe, Classic and Color Cup kits allow families to create a full spectrum of colored eggs.
  • Craft Kits - Craft kits help users create their own one-of-a-kind works of art, such as color whipping eggs, adding sparkles or speckles, or creating neon tie-dyed eggs.
  • Eggsperiment - Active Volcano - This kit allows users to dye eggs by lowering them into an overflowing volcano.
  • Craft-A-Scene - These kits, which come in multiple versions, offer not only dyes and decorations to create character eggs, but also different backdrops that can be used in stop motion movies using a free app.
  • Themed Eggs - These include Dino Eggs, Forest Friends, Rides and Superheroes kits that allow families to bring characters to life.
  • Sentinel 2021-22 All-Area girls basketball team

    Welcome to the Sentinel's 2022 All-Area Girls' Basketball Team. Our list is a compilation of the best players from three of the four area high school programs we cover.

    Among the top 15 players selected for the first and second teams, four are from the Class of 2023, and three are sophomores who we expect to rise to prominence this fall.

    The performances of our first-team members were the cornerstones to each of their team's success this season. These player's leadership, commitment, and contributions on offensive or defensive was key to earning a spot on this year's Sentinel All-Area Girls Basketball Team.

    Sentinel All-Area First Team
    St Joseph-Ogden basketball player Payton Jacob         Unity's Maddie Reed

    Lauren Miller from Unity         Urbana's Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta

    SJO's Taylor Wells         Unity's Taylor Henry

    St Joseph-Ogdent's Ella Armstrong

    First Team

    Ella Armstrong, Senior
    St. Joseph-Ogden

    Taylor Henry, Senior

    Payton Jacob, Senior
    St. Joseph-Ogden

    Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta, Junior

    Lauren Miller, Junior

    Maddie Reed, Senior

    Taylor Wells, Senior
    St. Joseph-Ogden

    Second Team

    Destiny Barber, Junior

    Zineria Edwards, Senior

    Addison Frick, Sophomore
    St. Joseph-Ogden

    Peyton Jones, Junior
    St. Joseph-Ogden

    Ashlyn Lannert, Senior
    St. Joseph-Ogden

    Katey Moore, Sophomore

    Raegan Stringer, Sophomore

    Erika Steinman, Senior

    Honorable Mention

    St. Joseph-Ogden:
    Alyssa Hamilton (Sr), Alison Kearney (Sr), Kaytlyn Baker (Jr)

    Hailey Flesch (Sr), Gracie Renfrow (Sr), Savannah Alagna (Sr), Calli Chandler (Sr), Bridget Henry (Sr), Addison Ray (So)

    Amarah Howard (Sr), McKenzie Sprague (Jr), Teri Hall (So), Savannah Blanden (So)

    Editor's Note:

    A Certificate of Recognition is available for each of the players listed above. Players, coaches, or parents/guardians can email us at to receive their 2021-22 certificate.

    Give mom the night off and make this easy savory, stuff pasta dish

    Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Pierogies
    Photo provided

    Family Features -- Whether you're celebrating a special day or simply looking for an excuse to show her the love she deserves, giving mom the gift of time to explore her hobbies and interests is a treasure she'll surely appreciate. Providing her with those extra moments can be as easy as creating a meal that gives her back the time to enjoy her passions and hobbies.

    You don't have to be an experienced chef to make a dish you'll be proud to share. Simply putting your heart into preparing a meal you can enjoy together is sure to send a strong message about how much you appreciate the time and love she pours into you. A simple, savory treat like these Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Pierogies may look and taste fancy, but you can whip them up in next to no time at all.

    Make cooking a breeze and put a smile on your mom's face with easy-to-prepare Mrs. T's Pierogies, which are pasta pockets stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes, cheesy goodness and other big, bold flavors. You can find full or mini sized versions in the frozen food section in 13 flavors. If you want to try your hand with other dishes, these pierogies are versatile; you can boil, bake, saute, fry or grill them.

    Visit to find more recipe inspiration to celebrate mom.

    Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Bacon Pierogies

    Ingredients -

  • 4 strips bacon, chopped
  • 3 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 box Mrs. T's Classic Cheddar Pierogies
  • Directions -

    In pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until tips begin to crisp.

    With bacon and drippings still in pan, add onions, mushrooms, thyme, balsamic vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook 2-3 minutes until onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered with lid, 10-15 minutes; stir occasionally. Set aside.

    In clean skillet, melt butter and saute pierogies according to package directions.

    Top pierogies with caramelized onion mixture before serving.

    U of I tennis looking for ball runners

    URBANA -- Atkins Tennis Center is looking for ball runners for the University of Illinois home tennis matches. In addition to working the men's and women's matches, the U of I tennis facility will also host the collegiate NCAA tournament.

    Ball runners are needed for the following dates and times:

  • Friday - April 1st at 3pm, Michigan
  • Saturday - April 3rd at Noon, Michigan State
  • Saturday - April 16th, Northwestern
  • Friday - April 22nd at 3pm, Indiana
  • Sunday - April 24th at Noon, Purdue
  • NCAA Tournament May 19-28
  • No experience is necessary, t-shirts will be provided to wear and take home. Ball running is an opportunity to be a part of high-level tennis and on the same court with future professional tennis stars. Kids through between in grades 2 through 8th can sign up here to volunteer.

    For additional information, please email Sadie at or call Atkins Tennis Center at (217) 244-8562.

    Guest Commentary | At this point we have no choice but to help

    by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

    America has always been good when it comes to helping people and more are on the way.

    Refugees from Ukraine are coming to America, up to 100,000 would be welcomed as recently announced by President Biden. The population of some communities will grow depending on where the federal government places these people.

    Since the passage of the refugee act there are already over 3 million refugees in America. They are located throughout the United States with large populations in some towns and cities.

    A refugee is "a person who is unable to return his or her country of origin because of a well- founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group." A refugee legally resides in the country of resettlement and is eligible for federally funded cash assistance for up to 8 months.

    Refugees are resettled in the United States by the federal government and are afforded specific refugee assistance to help them rebuild their lives in America. This federal funding is limited in both duration and amount. It is important to note that most refugees arrive with very little in terms of possessions, beside a few bags of luggage, and if they are lucky, all of their family members.

    All refugees arriving in the United States are entitled to 8 months of Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) from the date of their U.S. arrival. The RCA amounts vary based on the size of the family: Single person ($230/month), Family of 2 ($363/Month), Family of 3 ($485/month), Family of 4 ($611/month), etc. If a family qualifies for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), offered by the State Department of Health and Human Services, they will not receive RCA funds, but will immediately begin receiving TANF funds, which provide the same amounts of funds as outlined above for families (Refugee or American), yet unlike RCA, there is 5 year time limit to their receipt of funds which can be reviewed and extended depending on need. All TANF recipients must be participating in verified educational courses, volunteer placements, and/or employment searches in order to access these funds.

    The Ukrainian people appear to be hard working people. Once they make it to America I would not be surprised if some of our worker shortage will start to disappear. These people have nothing. If you still want a job you probably should take one and go to work.

    At this point, we have no choice but to help these people as the economy and infrastructure of the countries surrounding Ukraine cannot absorb them all.

    Can you imagine if Russia and China combined to attack America? What if we had to run to Canada to survive? We would appreciate anything anybody would do to help us.


    Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of Grandpa's Store, American Issues, 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 The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to


    CDC’s latest guidelines on Covid risk and masking sends confusing message to Americans

    by Colleen DeGuzman, Kaiser Health News
    A shopper checks the quality of a pineapple at the supermarket. Most people have become increasingly more comfortable shopping and attending live events around the country thanks largely to the CDC's guidelines. Yet, a poll in February suggests that 49% of the population still has concerns about the relaxed public health guidance.
    Photo: Anna Shvets/Pexels

    When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month unveiled updated covid-19 guidelines that relaxed masking recommendations, some people no doubt sighed in relief and thought it was about time.

    People have become increasingly comfortable being out shopping, attending live events, or meeting up with friends at restaurants. And many are ready to cast aside their masks.

    Still, a recent KFF poll pointed to an underlying tension. Just as a large swath of the American public, 62%, said that the worst of the pandemic was behind us, nearly half were worried about easing covid-related restrictions — like indoor masking — too soon. The poll, conducted in February, found that 49% of adults were either "very worried" or "somewhat worried" that lifting pandemic restrictions would cause more virus-related deaths in their communities. About 50% were "not too worried" or "not at all worried" that death tolls would rise in their communities.

    The CDC’s move triggered some of the same mixed feelings from the public that the poll uncovered and laid bare a split within the health care community.

    On the one hand, there’s applause.

    The CDC’s protocol change is an indicator that the nation is approaching a "transition from the pandemic phase to an endemic phase," said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. Rather than pushing messages of prevention, Benjamin said, the agency is changing its focus to monitoring for spikes of infection.

    On the other hand, there is criticism — and worry, too.

    "When I hear about relaxing regulations," said Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a Texas A&M University professor and chief virologist at its Global Health Research Complex, "it sounds a lot like people giving up. And we’re not there yet, and it’s a little bit heartbreaking and a little bit hair-pulling."

    What Are the New Guidelines, and How Are They Different?

    Before the update, the CDC considered a community at substantial or high risk if it had had an infection rate of 50 or more new cases for every 100,000 residents in the previous week.

    According to the agency’s new community-based guidance, risk levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking — over a seven-day period — at three factors: the number of new covid cases in an area, the share of hospital beds being used, and hospital admissions.

    This change had a profound impact on how covid risk was measured across the country. For example, the day before the CDC announced the new guidelines, 95% of the nation’s counties were considered areas of substantial or high risk. Now, just 14% of counties fall into the high-risk category, according to the agency.

    The CDC doesn’t make specific mask recommendations for areas at low risk. For areas classified as medium risk, people who have other health problems or are immunocompromised are urged to speak to their health care provider about whether they should mask up and take other precautions. In areas deemed to be high risk, residents are urged to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

    "This more stratified approach with this combination of those factors gives us a better level of understanding of covid-19’s impact on our communities," said Keri Althoff, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Specifically, the impact of severe disease and death."

    But people shouldn’t get rid of their masks yet, she said. Even as the nation’s infection rates fall, the virus continues to spread on a global scale. "We have to fully recognize that there are so many people on this Earth who are unvaccinated internationally, and this is where the variants come from," Althoff said.

    Roses and Thorns From Experts

    The same week the CDC rolled out its new guidelines, it reported a national seven-day average of about 71,000 new covid cases, along with 5,400 hospital admissions. Around 2,000 people were dying because of the disease every day.

    It’s numbers like these that led some public health experts to question the CDC’s timing.

    "I think we have prematurely opened and prematurely unmasked so many times at this point, followed by remasking and reclosing and just seeing our hospitals absolutely swamped, that I don’t really trust this," said Texas A&M’s Neuman.

    Health News on The Sentinel

    There have been "too many times," he said, when the CDC has put down its guard and the virus came back stronger. "We’re basically taking our foot off the accelerator in terms of what we’re doing to slow down the virus, and that just means that there will be more virus going around and it’s going to keep swirling around," he said.

    The CDC’s goal for easing mask mandates, Neuman speculated, was to create regulations that are more appealing and easier for people to abide by, because "it’s hard to sell prudence as something really attractive." Plus, public health officials need to have a program that the entire country can follow, he said. The battle against the virus can’t be won with policies "that people follow in blue states but not in red states," he added, "because the virus is very much a collective risk."

    There also are questions about how effective the new approach is at signaling when risk is increasing.

    Joshua Salomon, a professor of health policy at Stanford University’s medical school, said that although the CDC designed its new guidance to incorporate a stronger indicator of surges, it has "a very late trigger."

    Salomon, along with Alyssa Bilinski, an assistant professor of health policy at Brown University, looked into the delta and omicron surges and found that a rough rule of thumb during that period was that 21 days after most states rose to the high-risk level, the death rate hit three people for every million. That equals about 1,000 deaths a day at a national level.

    The updated CDC guidance "is intended to provide a sort of warning that states are entering a period in which severe outcomes are expected," he said. But the new approach would not sound that alarm until death rates were already reaching that "quite high" mark.

    Others, though, point to another set of numbers. They say that with 65% of Americans fully vaccinated and 44% boosted as of March 8, relaxing covid protocols is the right decision.

    The new strategy is forward-looking and continues to measure and track the virus’s spread, said the APHA’s Benjamin. "It allows a way to scale up and scale back the response."

    Since the guidelines are based on seven-day averages, he added, they are a good way to monitor communities’ risk levels and gauge which set of mandates is appropriate. "So if a community goes from green to yellow to red," he said, referring to the CDC’s color-coded map that tracks counties’ covid levels, "that community will then need to modify its practices based on the prevalence of disease there."

    The guidelines, Benjamin said, are "scientifically sound, they’re practical." Over time, he added, more communities will move into the low and moderate categories. "The truth of the matter is that you just cannot keep people in the emergency state forever," he continued. "And this is never going to get to zero risk. … [Covid’s] going to be around, and so we’re going to have to learn to live with it."

    What About Those Who Are Not Eligible for a Vaccine or Are Immunocompromised?

    The CDC’s relaxed recommendations do not prevent anyone from wearing a mask. But for millions of Americans who are immunocompromised or too young to receive a vaccine, less masking means a loss of a line of defense for their health in public spaces.

    Children younger than 5 are not eligible to receive a vaccine yet, and people who are immunocompromised and are susceptible to more severe cases of the disease include cancer patients undergoing active treatment and organ transplant recipients. People living with chronic illnesses or disabilities are also vulnerable.

    "You only have control of so much," Neuman said. "And if you’re exposed to enough of the virus and you’re doing all the right things, you can still sometimes end up with a bad result."

    Masks are most effective when everyone in a room is wearing one, Neuman added, but the new mandate is similar "to victim-blaming — basically saying, ‘You have a problem and so here’s the extra burden to go with your problem.’"

    KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

    Subscribe to KHN's free Morning Briefing.

    Prep Sports Notebook: Rockets blank Comets in first home game of the season

    Three home runs power Unity over Oakwood

    Hailey Flesch, Reece Sarver, and Ruby Tarr hit one home run apiece in the bottom of the third inning to lead Unity past Oakwood 18-0 on Monday.

    With the Rockets already up 15-0, Tarr's three-run bell-ringer was the icing on the cake in the non-conference victory.

    Attention high school coaches

    We need your help covering your team this spring to help keep fans, college recruiters, and area readers informed. Send us your game or meet results for our Prep Sports Notebook and weekly stats leaders for our All-Area team selection at the conclusion of the season.

    If you are a coach at Unity, Urbana Uni-High, Urbana High School or St. Joseph-Ogden, the best way to send us box scores and other info is via email to or

    Do you have a player on the verge of breaking a school record, signing an LOI, or have a story idea? Don't hesitate to email us.

    4th Covid shot approved for immunocompromised and those 50 & over

    Dallas, TX -- Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the use of a second COVID-19 booster shot for adults over age 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals, including heart transplant patients. While not issuing a direct recommendation, the agencies instead issued emergency authorization for a fourth shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to provide additional protection against the coronavirus and its variants for certain people. The American Heart Association continues to align with guidance from the CDC, the nation’s pandemic control experts, and supports the use of this fourth shot, as indicated.

    Health News on The Sentinel

    According to the CDC, the additional booster should be given at least four months after the initial booster. There is still little research on the use of a fourth dose of the vaccine, however, emerging evidence finds the effectiveness against COVID-19 and its variants may start to diminish three to six months after receipt of an initial booster dose.

    The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, remains concerned about the continuing gaps in COVID-19 vaccination among people from all eligible age groups in the U.S., including people from diverse racial and ethnic groups and pregnant people.

    "Individuals eligible for COVID vaccination who are not yet fully immunized are urged get the series of vaccines at least up through the first booster. People who are eligible for the second booster should call their clinical care office to discuss the need for a second booster," said American Heart Association volunteer President Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, chair of the department of preventive medicine, the Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research and professor of preventive medicine, medicine and pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "It is also important to ensure you are up to date on controlling other health issues including any cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, that can put you at increased risk for heart disease, stroke and COVID-19."

    For more information on COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease, visit

    Loman-Ray Insurance to add new location in St. Joseph

    ST. JOSEPH -- Yesterday, Loman-Ray Insurance Group announced the company will open a new office in St. Joseph. The company, which currently has 12 offices in Illinois, will be located at 104 N. Main in St. Joseph.

    An independent insurance company, Loman-Ray was started in 1981 by Lyle Loman and his wife Sue. The husband-wife team, who were also teachers, discovered selling insurance was financially rewarding beyond their expectations and purchased a small property/casualty firm in 1981. The company has expanded to locations in Atwood, Broadlands, Cissna Park, Clifton, Danville, Hoopeston, Tolono, Sullivan, and Villa Grove.

    Loman-Ray, which expects to open the St. Joseph office this summer, specializes in auto, home, commercial, group and individual health, and agribusiness insurance coverage.

    Urbana Board of Education to hold special meeting on Tuesday

    URBANA -- The Urbana District #116 Board of Education will hold a special meeting in the Board Room at 205 North Race Street in Urbana on Tuesday, March 29, at 7:30pm. The agenda includes four key topics for discussion with three related to the school's mask policy and Covid-19 mitigation.

    The Board will hear a presentation from Dr. Ivory-Tatum, who will revisit previous discussions on the masking and metrics for the district. An updated or modified return-to-school plan will also be discussed.

    The meeting will be live-streamed on YouTube here.

    Members of the public can participate during the Public Comment portion of the meeting in person or by emailing their public comments to by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. A district administrator or board member will read comments submitted by email.

    Meeting attendees are required to wear a mask. The Urbana School District currently follows a universal indoor masking policy. All students, teachers, staff, and visitors are required to comply with the policy, regardless of their vaccination status.

    If you forget to bring a mask, lose it on your way into the building, or do not have one, a mask will be provided and must be worn during the meeting.

    Bill to attract and retain volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel stalls in Illinois

    Springfield —- Last week, fire officials and state legislators met at the Illinois state capital rallying for the approval of a bill designed to help alleviate the shortage of volunteer firefighters and EMS workers in the state.

    Senate Bill 3027, which would provide a $500 state income tax credit for volunteer emergency workers who earn less than $10,000 in stipends for their service to the fire department, passed the Senate unanimously with 51 of the possible 58 votes on February 23. The tax credit would apply to EMS personnel who have worked for a fire department or fire protection district for at least nine months.

    Unfortunately, the vote was essentially put on hold by the house after being assigned to the Revenue and Finance Committee on March 7. The proposed legislation is similar to those in New York, Iowa, and Maryland.

    It is estimated the state would lose $20 million to $22 million in lost tax revenue annually if in enacted. Some lawmakers say it is a small price to pay to keep Illinoians safe.

    "First responders are always at the forefront of each incident or disaster," said State Senator Meg Loughran Cappel (D-Shorewood). "The past couple of years have been very challenging for these individuals and it’s my hope that creating a tax credit will show our support to the people who keep our communities safe and incentivize more people to join our departments,"

    Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) added, "With the critical shortage of volunteers and the amount of taxpayer dollars they save us, we can’t afford NOT to pass this legislation, which will help encourage recruitment and retention who serve our communities selflessly."

    Highland Fire Chief Kerry Federer said the shortage is a public safety crisis. The number of emergency and fire calls to departments around the state has tripled.

    "This reflects a nationwide shortage of volunteers, contributing factors which include: the aging population of volunteers, increased training requirements, and newer policies, which prohibit full-time firefighters from volunteering in their own communities," Federer said in a statement from the Illinois Firefighters Association.

    Senator Neil Anderson (R-Rock Island), who is also a fireman in the Quad Cities, said volunteer first-responders deserve the financial support from the state.

    "People’s lives have changed, and volunteer department numbers are down," Anderson said. "If we can find a way to attract more volunteer emergency workers with a little incentive, it is something this small that could play a big role in saving someone’s home or their livelihoods. My hope is this bill will help increase and maintain retention rates for volunteer departments who already see greater challenges because of less resources."

    Seven senators - one Republican and six Democrats - did not cast a vote after the third reading of the bill.

    The legislation also removes provisions concerning volunteer fire protection associations and updates the definition of "volunteer emergency worker". Lawmakers behind the measure hope the legislation is approved before the legislature adjourns on April 8.

    Sound off: Do you think lawmakers should pass this bill? Tell us in the comment section below why they should.

    ViewPoint | A case for a mixed-method fix to the US economy

    Anyone entering the labor market or buying cars or property this year or next will be highly affected by inflation policies.

    Throughout history, sometimes the Federal Reserve, or "Fed," has altered the federal funds rate in the same direction, up or down, over lengthy eras. The Fed has also often left interest rates constant.

    An example of the first was raising them from approximately 1977-1980, or cutting them from 1968-1971. An example of the second was over the Great Recession (2010-2015) - which held near 0%. Predictability gives firms expectations, causing smoother shifts in supply and demand without smaller iterations.

    However, keeping rates lengthily at the same level can lead to financial instability, from: "chasing higher yield;" savings and investments imbalances; or, from larger policy changes once “shocks” arise. With the pandemic “shock,” political-economic turbulence might still be ahead, and more inflation. The 1920’s economist Irving Fisher described inflation as butter (money) spreading too far over bread (goods).

    Inflation today has several culprits: monetary policies of central banks; international conflict; fiscal policies of spending bountiful government money, much of it deficit-financed; labor shortages from workers fearing the virus; and online-bought goods causing trouble coordinating ships or truck entries into ports.

    The Fed, while independent, must still align itself with President Biden’s policies, which called for two infrastructure bills. With the larger bill, even moderates have to compromise, and the newly-convoluted idea that lawmakers do not have to reveal their stances makes politics more dyspeptic.

    The wealth tax (on unrealized capital gains) to pay for the bill may have been unconstitutional or could have shifted investments overseas. But, raising the top income bracket was rejected, and raising the payroll tax on upper-earners was not even considered. Spending proposals, such as “free” community college, or even scholarships, or my own proposed idea for an ice-breaker vessel for the Arctic’s infrastructure, were rejected ad-hoc in behind-the-scenes negotiations. Hyper-politicized parliamentary rules took precedent over actually voting on amendments.

    Undernoted in this debate, and absent from modern economic texts, is the 1960’s "balanced budget theorem," promulgated by economist Paul Samuelson. Increasing taxes and spending by similar amounts can theoretically increase short-term growth, though never attempted, but permitting an inflation focus. Yet, bills sometimes die, and Mr. Biden has not even addressed healthcare yet.

    Fortunately, last year’s annual end-of-year budget crises were averted. Perhaps the Republicans saw no need to add “insult to injury,” since inflation hit. As Fisher described, perhaps butter melts faster than bread expands, in our analogy, because money is more liquid than goods, which take time to produce.

    Henceforth, Mr. Powell may have lowered rates too slowly before, too quickly during, and to be seen too delayed after the pandemic. Some economists have said these were the Fed’s worst historical mistakes.

    With both inflation and held-back pandemic growth presenting challenges, it might benefit the Fed to follow a third course, of short-term changing rates incrementally, from meeting-to-meeting, or quarter-to-quarter, based on changing conditions "on the ground," as military leaders say. In essence, mix the ingredients differently. The Fed did so in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. Instead of dubiously committing to raising rates indefinitely, it might be wise to keep an eye on growth, especially with the conflict overseas, as rate hikes could lead to recession- worse than the current climate.

    The economy is now Mr. Biden’s, having re-nominated Mr. Powell for Chair, while nominating Lael Brainard for Vice-Chair, both now before the Senate amidst questions over Fed "insider trading," and whether the Fed should own environmentally-unfriendly assets.

    Dr. Brainard could steer Mr. Powell within his newfound fixation on rate-raising. Once set, though, a mixed-method approach, as described here-to-fore, might prove most stabilizing, along with mixing policies between different tools. Also helpful for Fed policy, and for keeping rates low, would be if President Biden’s larger bill were to be revisited once growth slows, even if voted on in pieces. Parts, even those aimed at climate change, could stimulate the economy, especially if some revenues paid down debt.

    A combination of all such approaches would ensure that the government gets the upcoming climate right and that the kids get their holiday baked goods just under a year from now, without a recession, but certainly with butter for everyone.

    Dr. Todd J. Barry holds a PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi, and teaches economics, currently with Hudson County Community College in New Jersey, USA.

    New AI technology detects sleep apnea while you snooze

    NAPSI—- Roughly 20% of U.S. adults have sleep apnea, and as many as 90% of those cases go undiagnosed. The condition occurs when people stop breathing periodically throughout the night, potentially leading to severe health issues.

    Conventional methods for diagnosing sleep apnea can get expensive and are known to be uncomfortable, requiring medical professionals to administer tests at a doctor’s clinic or hospital or needing the patient to purchase at-home monitoring devices. 

    With this knowledge, Mintal—a wellness-focused technology brand—developed Mintal Tracker (available to download for free on iOS and Android), an AI-driven sleep analysis app that doesn’t require any hardware or external devices to generate thorough sleep reports and detect warning signs for sleep apnea. 

    Detect Sleep Apnea From Home, Free

    Leveraging industry-leading AI technology, the Mintal R&D team developed a sophisticated deep learning model that can maintain high accuracy with low hardware performance and storage requirements. Mintal Tracker can analyze your sleep sounds in real time, accurately identifying when you snore and/or display signs of OSAHS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Hypopnea Syndrome) to generate analysis reports in seconds and enable you to quickly understand your sleep habits.

    Setup is easy; you just need to place your phone by your bed, and the app will record and analyze your sleep sounds throughout the night. Through testing, the app was found to be highly accurate in diagnosing moderate to severe sleep apnea, offering a starting point for further medical diagnosis. As such, users call this app “life saving”:

    •“An excellent app. Did not expect the level of diagnosis provided. I was really impressed. I will be recommending this app to family and friends. I will also make sure my PCP is aware this app exist. Thank you for a very useful and possibly life saving app.”—Phillip M**, 12/05/2021, Google Play

    •“This app help me see that I have issues when I sleep, especially with snoring, that I may have sleep apnea. This is a great app to have if you worry about why you are still tired when you wake up, you may not be getting a good quality of sleep.”—Nay N**, 12/06/2021, App Store

    • “I love this because it is the alarm that has worked for me. It really knows when to wake me so I’m less moody... My sleep has only improved in all this time.”—Foran E** 12/23/2021, Google Play

    After a night of sleep tracking, the app generates a summarized sleep report highlighting key metrics including how long and how frequently you snored and sleep talked, your risk of apnea and provides sleep cycle analysis and personalized sleep tips, which gives you or your doctor a whole picture of your sleep conditions. Moreover, you can listen to your snoring, dream talking and environment noises in the report.

    Finally, Mintal Tracker goes beyond sleep tracking and sleep apnea detection—the app offers users hundreds of soothing sounds, anxiety relief exercises, a sleep encyclopedia and personalized advice for developing healthier sleep habits.

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