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Afternoon Edition: May 8, 2020

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

Julia Lindsey dreams of performing on Broadway — and staying away from ships.
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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.

Happy Friday! It’s a bit colder today than what we’ve been getting used to: This afternoon will be mostly sunny, with a high near 40 degrees and a slight chance of flurries. Tonight will be freezing, so if you’ve been gardening, make sure to cover your seedlings . Luckily, the cold won’t last: Saturday will be sunny with a high near 56, and Sunday will be cloudy with a high around 54 degrees.

Top story

She left Illinois to be a cruise ship singer, and ended up stuck at sea nearly 2 months due to COVID-19

For the first 22 years of her life, Julia Lindsey had never seen the sea. Now, it’s all she sees — day after day after day — from her cabin aboard the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship. Stuck onboard, she’s only been able to gaze out first at ever-elusive Miami, and now at the Bahamas.

“I’m very, very frustrated,” said Lindsey, 24, a singer working on the ship who grew up in Poplar Grove, about 75 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. She’s been trapped for nearly two months.

Maybe you heard in March that people were stranded on cruise ships at American ports because of coronavirus concerns. Many eventually were able to disembark.

Not Lindsey, who’s among an estimated 100,000 crew members still stuck on cruise ships in or near American waters. They’re caught in a dispute between cruise lines and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They can disembark only if company executives accept responsibility for making sure that process follows CDC guidelines. The cruise lines have refused, though one executive has told employees the company now will agree so its workers can finally go home.

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

On March 14, a day after her last cruise ended, she and other employees were told, even though no one had tested positive, that they’d have to wait out two weeks of isolation. Nine days later, a crew member tested positive. That’s when everything changed, she said. For nearly 2 ½ half weeks, employees were confined to their cabins 24 hours a day, with water and food left at their doors.

“I was going absolutely crazy,” said Lindsey, who’s sharing a cabin with her boyfriend.

Crew members eventually were allowed out of their cabins — for three hours a day. Since April 30, the restrictions have been loosened more: They can leave their cabins as long as they wear masks and practice social distancing.

Listening to music, strolling on the deck, talking with her family and having her boyfriend, who’s the cruise ship’s music director, with her have kept her sane, she said.

But when she finally steps back onto land, Lindsey said: “I’m going to stay away from the water for a long time. I would never even come on a ship as a guest after this.”

Read the full story from Stefano Esposito.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has unveiled what she called a “Protecting Chicago framework” to guide the slow, but steady reopening of the city economy that was ground to a halt by the coronavirus. Like Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan, the mayor’s version has five phases — with Chicago stuck in Phase 2.
  2. The mayor also said she’s determined to reopen Chicago Public Schools on time this fall, but to do it safely. One option being considered is the use of “alternate days” to limit the numbers of students and teachers in schools at one time.
  3. Officials said another 130 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois as the state reached a milestone of receiving more than 20,000 tests results in a single day. In total, 3,241 people have died of the coronavirus in Illinois.
  4. The U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7% in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression, as 20.5 million jobs vanished in the worst monthly loss on record. Almost all the job growth achieved during the 11-year recovery from the Great Recession has been lost in one month.
  5. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s battle against the coronavirus faces a new religious challenge in federal court. This time, it’s from churches opposing his Restore Illinois plan, and insisting on the right to worship with social distancing guidelines in place.
  6. Mother’s Day in the U.S. is celebrated every second Sunday of May, while May 10 is the official dia de las madres in Mexico. This year, though, they fall on the same day. Ismael Perez wrote about why his mother, a true “chingona,” still deserves two cakes this year.

A bright one

Murals honoring doctors, nurses, first responders going up near Medical District

Artist Dwight White II has seen a nurse who lives in his University Village apartment building coming and going recently at late hours. He’s talked to her from opposite sides of the elevator, pleasantries mostly, but never got her name.

She has no idea she’s the inspiration for a mural White just painted on the side of Lulu’s Hot Dogs, 1000 S. Leavitt St., in which she’s dressed like Captain America. “She sparked my inspiration. Medical workers are kind of the glue holding the world together right now,” said White, 26.

Artist Dwight White II painted this mural on the side of Lulu’s Hot Dogs, 1000 S. Leavitt St.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The artwork is part of Murals for Medical Relief, a campaign that’s tapping local artists to paint murals on buildings near the Illinois Medical District on the Near West Side honoring medical workers and first responders. The campaign’s website has a map showing where each mural is located.

The artists are donating their time, and local businesses are donating the wall space. A GoFundMe campaign tied to the project is up and running, with donations to be given to Cook County Health, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Rush University Medical Center.

Read the full story from Mitch Dudek to see more of the murals.

From the press box

Turns out new Bears players Ted Ginn and Tashaun Gipson are just like us: They’re also adjusting to new realities during the pandemic, like using Zoom for their new team orientation.

In the latest Halas Intrigue podcast, Jason Lieser and Patrick Finley discuss how the COVID-19 outbreak might affect this upcoming NFL season (if there is one). They also have a game-by-game breakdown of the Bears’ 2020 schedule, which was released yesterday.

Oh, and as an added bonus for this delightful Friday: Here’s a different take on the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James debate.

Your daily question ☕

Once restaurants eventually reopen, what’s the first meal you’ll want to eat out, and from where?

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

Yesterday, we asked you how many times per week you go out in public, and to do what. Here’s what some of you said…

“Everyday all day. Drive for Lyft taking first responders to work. Deliver groceries to people with Instacart and deliver food with Grubhub. I have family to support.” — Reynaldo Ramirez

“Depending on the weather I bicycle every nice day. I go to the grocery store once or sometimes twice a week. In between that I try to go for a walk or two daily. Ugh that’s it.” — David Karst

“Zero times!! We have been in the house since March 8 except for 3 trips to the grocery store. I must say I am thankful to have a suburban yard to putter in.” — Bobette Staley

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

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