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Afternoon Edition: March 30, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Ryaneal Campbell is one of an estimated 3 million workers who’ve lost their jobs in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

Hope you all had as relaxing a weekend as possible! This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 46 degrees. The low tonight will be around 34 degrees. Tomorrow will be colder, with a high near 41 degrees, and cloudy.

Top story

Rent coming due for many who’ve lost jobs or seen their hours cut

As April 1 approaches, many renters who have lost jobs or seen their hours cut because of the coronavirus are worried. Landlords say despite the crisis, they’re holding firm against free rent for tenants in hardship.

We talked to some Chicagoans who say they’re not sure how they’ll be able to come up with rent money by Wednesday.

Martina Williams was laid off as a housekeeper at the Blackstone Hotel two long weeks ago. It took her until Wednesday to get through to the state’s unemployment system and register.

While busy re-organizing life with her two school-age daughters, she got an email from her landlord reminding her that rent is due on April 1. She said there was no hint of an extension nor any reference to the coronavirus pandemic that has created a national economic crisis.

Though she said she can’t make the rent until her unemployment comes through, she’s staying upbeat. “I’m always keeping the faith,” Williams said.

We’re making our vital coronavirus coverage free for all readers. See the latest news here.

Others are having a harder time staying positive. West Sider Ryaneal Campbell, laid off from his job at the airline caterer Flying Food Group at O’Hare Airport, is a caregiver for an elderly relative. He can’t get through to the unemployment office, and next month’s rent looms: “I’ve had some help from family, but now I’m tapped out of cash. I don’t know where my next meal is coming from,” he said.

Larger Chicago-area landlords say they’re in no mood to forgive rent, but they might extend the deadline if asked. Some may hold off on eviction proceedings for longer than the current state and local mandates require.

“We expect rent to be paid on time. For those who lost their jobs, we’ll work out a payment plan. I still have to pay salaries, taxes and mortgages,” said Stuart Handler, CEO of TLC Management and a board member of the Chicagoland Apartment Association.

Though Mayor Lori Lightfoot has not urged landlords to forgive rent, she has offered help for rent or mortgage payments. She announced a program to provide 2,000 grants of $1,000 each to Chicagoans who can prove job or income loss due to the coronavirus. Applications are available at chicago.gov/coronavirus.

Read the full story from David Roeder.

More news you need

  1. Chicago Public Schools is planning to distribute 100,000 laptops, iPads and ChromeBooks for students to use at home as the district begins to implement a remote learning plan. CPS said it will distribute those “promptly,” and be in touch with families in the coming days.
  2. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new “remote learning” plan has left one aldermen to conclude that CPS students have attended their last day of in-person classes this academic year. Here’s what Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) told Fran Spielman.
  3. An Albany Park man was days away from completing his 90-day sentence when he became one of the first detainees at Cook County jail to test positive for COVID-19. “I really thought I was going to die,“ he told Andy Grimm.
  4. With campuses closed, college fairs canceled and students cut off from their teachers and counselors to slow the spread of the coronavirus, students have found picking a college increasingly difficult. Matthew Hendrickson spoke to some high school seniors.
  5. Celebrity chef Rick Bayless’ restaurant, Frontera Grill, is launching a program that will pay laid-off workers to make 30-pound boxes of food for people in need. The boxes will be available for pickup at restaurants throughout the city.

A bright one

While going on your daily walk around the block, you might have noticed a teddy bear in your neighbor’s window. And then another, and another. It’s not just your neighborhood: the trend is part of a global movement to make families’ occasional trips outside a fun and engaging experience during the pandemic.

The #bearhunt movement was inspired by Michael Rosen’s 1989 children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” which opens with the lines, “We’re going on a bear hunt/We’re going to catch a big one/What a beautiful day!/We’re not scared.”

It has spread from Canada to New Zealand and across the U.S. In the city and surrounding suburbs, neighbors have been using social media to encourage their communities to put a teddy bear in the window for kids to spot for this playful version of “I spy.”

While gathering in large groups outside is not recommended, medical professionals say it’s important to get some exercise and fresh air, both for physical and mental health. The “humble daily walk” can serve as “an anchor” for those in need of routines while social distancing — especially children.

Lizzie Schiffman Tufano has more on #bearhunt in today’s live blog.

From the press box

An unusual NFL draft process in which teams have limited access to prospects could put extra importance on game tape and actual playing ability over intangibles, Rick Morrissey writes. Remember when the Bears fell in love with Mitch Trubisky after meeting him in person? It’s hard to see the same playing out this year.

We also got new dates for the delayed 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: July 24 through August 9, almost exactly one year after the Games would’ve taken place.

Your daily question ☕

In honor of National Doctors Day, we want to know: What would you like to say to the healthcare workers keeping us safe and healthy during the pandemic?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Friday, we asked you to tell us about your favorite thing to do on a rainy day, since rain was in the forecast for the weekend. Here’s what some of you said:

“Put on a warm sweater and soft throw, light some incense, pour a cup of hot tea and read the stack of magazines that have been patiently waiting there for my life to slow down,” wrote Mindy Derfler on Facebook.

“Read with the curtains open, listen to music, watch a movie and a nap is always essential, not too long tho so I can still enjoy the rainy day” wrote Christopher Cebrero on Facebook.

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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