Category: Word

Getting tested for COVID-19 is pretty easy

Does the idea of getting tested for COVID-19 freak you out a little? That's okay if it does — it freaked me out a little, too. In Champaign-Urbana getting tested is very easy, and the testing part is not nearly as scary as you may have seen on the internet or news. The testing site is at Marketplace Mall in Champaign.

We all need to get used to getting tested, especially as schools return to session; this is our new normal. I wanted to share my experience with you, reader, in case you were feeling some hesitation.

Lots of information about COVID-19 in Champaign and Urbana is available on the CUPHD website; if you have any questions, start there.

A line of cars at the Marketplace Mall COVID-19 testing site in Champaign. Two lines of cars move toward two white tents. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

My husband and I went to get tested on Wednesday, July 1st. We were not experiencing any symptoms, but wanted to make sure we were not asymptomatic carriers. We arrived just after 8 a.m., and there was a long line of cars in front of us, but it moved quickly. The entire process took 40 minutes, with about 35 to 38 of those waiting for the line to move. The test itself is very fast.

Here's a basic rundown of what to expect:

  • Don't forget to wear a mask.
  • Testing is free. You do not need to pay for a test. If you have insurance, they will ask to see your insurance card.
  • Tests are administered at Marketplace Mall, on the East Side, just around the way from Dick's Sporting Goods. The National Guard is administering the tests, so don't freak out when you see a bunch of (mostly) dudes in fatigues.
  • Testing is available every day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., or while supplies last.
  • You must be in a vehicle with a working window to be tested.
  • The test itself is a self-administered nasal swab — basically, it's a very long, one-sided Q-Tip that you shove (gently) into your nostril, twirl around and hold for 15 seconds, then repeat in the other nostril. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. Did I shove mine in a little too far? Possibly.
  • Once you're done, you'll break the swab off into a vial, and pass the vial back to the person collecting them.

Results are released to you within four to seven days (you'll get a phone call), but I got my results back within 24 hours (it was negative).

Top image by Jessica Hammie.


Hamilton Walker’s has some tasty looking meal packages for this weekend

If you are looking for a little cooking help this 4th of July weekend, Hamilton Walker's is offering three different Butcher Shop Kits for you to take home and grill. Each kit includes meats for the grill, various sides, and dessert. They are meant to serve four people, and range from $85-175. I am partial to their burgers. We've had them at the restaurant and we've grilled them ourselves, and they are just overall wonderful. Here are your options:

A poster with a red background and white lettering that says Fantastic Fourth. The text details the grill kit menus. Image from Hamilton Walker's Facebook page. Image from Hamilton Walker's Facebook page.

Top photo from Hamilton Walker's. 


Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers for Faith Build

Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County is kicking off their 2020 Faith Build on Wednesday, July 8th, and they are looking for individuals and faith communities that would like to contribute their time and/or talents to the cause. 

They are doing what they called a "Mini Blitz Build" where they will be working over the course of four consecutive days; for that they are looking for volunteers with construction experience and the ability to lift heavy things.

After that, build days will happen on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is open to all types of volunteers. If individuals or congregations want to be involved outside the construction site, they can contact Kim Gollings at or Lauren Gramly at

Volunteers can register for spots here.

Everyone on site will be following COVID safety protocols. 

Photo from Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County website.


City of Urbana is making more space for outdoor retails sales

Mayor Diane Marlin issued an emergency order that would allow retail sales and services to happen outside on city sidewalks, and in private parking lots. Here are the details:

  • Businesses will need to apply for a permit that is required for temporary use of public sidewalks.
  • Go to: for information and instructions on how to create a CitizenServe account.
  • Additionally, tents on private property may require a permit.
  • Go here to see the specifications for tents.
  • The necessary permits are listed on CitizenServe.
  • Please contact or (217) 384-2430 with permit questions.

Photo from City of Urbana Facebook page.


Smile Politely seeking Music writers

We know you have thoughts about the Champaign-Urbana music community, so why not voice them here as an engaged community member? Here's how to do it.

Please send us an email at telling us about yourself, why you're interested in contributing, and all that good stuff. Since we're a hyper local magazine, applicants must have a grasp on local music scene. 

If you're interested in getting involved, send us an email at the address above with the subject "Music Writer" and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. 


CU Adventures in Time and Space is opening on July 3rd

Escape rooms are allowed to open under Phase 4 guidelines, so CU Adventures is ready to open. They are opening on a very limited basis; only Calling all Villians will be available for in-person game play. Here is what you need to know:

-All games will be guaranteed private bookings, with a slightly different pricing structure.

-All players and staff must wear masks for the entire duration of the experience. This includes check-in, the entirety of the game, and check-out. We are extremely serious about this requirement.

-Players will be asked to remain outside until their start time, and only one group will be allowed inside the building at a time.

-We will have fewer games available per day, as we will require additional time between games for deep cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces and props.

We’re sure there will be some other changes as we figure out what works best for our staff and players. We are committed to reacting to the reality of the situation as it changes, so we are prepared to close in-person games if we cannot run them safely.

They are also working on more digital content as well as outdoor escape room experiences. 

Photo by Anna Longworth.


Help Uniting Pride plan this year’s Pridefest activities

Uniting Pride is looking for some creative minds to join this year's Pridefest committee. Obviously the celebration is going to need to look different this year, so they are looking for ways to commemorate the occasion beyond the traditional parade and other gatherings. 

If you'd like to be a part of the discussion, contact to join the Pride Committee for 2020. 

Photo from Uniting Pride Facebook page.


Here are some reminders about using fireworks

It's fireworks season, if you haven't literally heard.

The City of Champaign Fire and Police have offered a few tips, tricks, and reminders about using fireworks (noted below). Please allow me to add that the use of fireworks is prohibited in parks or on trails. Also, please consider your neighbors (and their sleep and kids and dogs) and the noise and smell and general annoyance of fireworks before you set them off at all hours of the night.

Champaign Fire and Police Encourage Safe and Lawful Fireworks Celebrations

Residents are encouraged to be mindful and considerate of neighbors when using permitted fireworks, such as sparklers

As Independence Day approaches and our community begins to celebrate July 4th and the season of fireworks, the City of Champaign reminds residents and visitors that fireworks can be dangerous and to celebrate safely by leaving the fireworks to the experts.

According to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were approximately 10,000 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2019, with 73 percent of them occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July. To help in the prevention of injuries and property damage, ensure your family’s safety with the below tips.  Residents are also reminded to maintain a working smoke alarm and to regularly practice a home safety plan in case of fire or another emergency.

  • Be sure you are using legal fireworks, such as sparklers. Remember, sparklers might seem like a safer alternative; however, they can heat up to 1,200˚F. Do not allow children to use them without adult supervision.
  • Generally, any fireworks that have to be lit by a wick and/or shoots into the air are illegal in the City of Champaign.
  • Legal fireworks should be used outside, away from homes, people, trees, dry grass, or any other flammable substances.
  • When handling fireworks always have a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher on standby.
  • If injured by a firework, go to a doctor immediately. If it is an eye injury, do not rub the injury, as it may cause more damage.
  • The best way to prevent firework injuries is to not use them at all.

Residents can visit the City of Champaign Municipal Code of Ordinances, specifically Chapter 13, Article II, for a more detailed definition of fireworks and what is allowed and prohibited.

Any resident who has information on the use of illegal fireworks is asked to please contact Champaign Police at 217-351-4545 or the non-emergency number at 217-333-8911. Officers will make attempts to generate voluntary compliance with the responsible party to stop the use of illegal fireworks. If that is unsuccessful, an NTA may be issued for a City Ordinance violation. There is a minimum $205 fine for the use of illegal fireworks.

Top image by Sam Logan.


Cyntoia Brown will be the special guest at Education Justice Project’s virtual fundraiser

The Education Justice Project will be hosting a virtual gala on July 11th from 5:30 to 7 p.m. There will be awards and music, and alumni of the program will speak. In addition, Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16 for killing a man in self defense, will be the featured guest. From the EJP website: "Ms. Brown earned a degree from Lipscomb University after she was incarcerated at the age of 16 and sentenced to life. She was freed after 15 years when the governor of Tennessee granted her clemency, in response to a nationwide campaign."

Reservations are required, and participation is $25 per screen. 

We've written about the work of the EJP several times; this interview with director Rebecca Ginsburg gives a good overview of the program, which helps incarcerated men earn college credit while serving their sentences. 

Image from Facebook event page.


Maize’s First and Green location has reopened

Maize's First and Green location has reopened, according to the post below via their Facebook page. The original location has been closed for some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their need to consolidate their resources and focus on serving through the Downtown Champaign location.

Read Alyssa's interview with GM Adam Lopez while you're at it, and look back at our BEST new restaurants of the decade feature if you're interested (Maize took the top honor).

60 E Green St.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily

Top image by Sam Logan.


Canopy Club announces What's Goin' On? streaming event July 11-12

From the press release:



Streaming Saturday, July 11th and Sunday, July 12th

Urbana-Champaign, IL – The Canopy Club and Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment in conjunction with Hip Hop Xpress, Ghetto Genius, & WECAAN is proudly launching:

What’s Goin’ On” - a free virtual celebration of music and the arts streaming from The Canopy Club.

We all ask our friends every weekend – “What’s Goin’ On?”  Similarly, the events since George Floyd’s May 25th death, have seen protests and unrest throughout the nation and right here at home having many asking the same question. These demonstrations are not only about the George Floyd tragedy, but also about too many acts of violence committed against Black Americans that have gone without appropriate resolution as well as about addressing systemic racism and historic injustice. 

“The Funk can not only move, but remove.” George Clinton

The Canopy Club & WECAAN believe that music and the arts can play an important part in the process of formulating positive change from the painful events of the last few weeks. We believe the community must come together through the arts, with artists and activists delivering a message of unity and Black empowerment like Marvin Gaye did in 1971 with his iconic hit “What’s Going On?” The Canopy Club family is committed to celebrating our community and providing a platform for expression and messaging on these important social issues through a two day, “What’s Goin’ On?” virtual event. This celebration will feature musical performances, spoken word, live DJs, and a variety of local artists. Community leaders, activists, and local youth will join this virtual event as panelists. 

“What’s Goin’ On?” objectives: 

  • Raise money for local artists. Event will include links to donate money that will help support these artists’ careers.
  • Highlight Black, minority-owned, and women owned local businesses 
  • Highlight grassroots activists and give voice to their causes
  • Unite our community through the healing power of music and the arts by showcasing local, independent artists. 

For more information and to stay current on participants, please visit and RSVP to the Facebook event.

IMAGE: What's Goin' On? graphic with information about the event listed. The graphic is black.

Top image from Canopy Club's press release.