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Afternoon Edition: Jan. 22, 2021

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

The indoor dining tables at Formento’s Italian restaurant the West Loop. Bottle of hand sanitizer sits in the center of the tables instead of a centerpiece.
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.

It’s cold out there: This afternoon will be sunny, with a high near 19 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 9 degrees. This weekend will be a bit warmer: Saturday will be cloudy with a high near 27 degrees and Sunday’s high will be around 34 degrees with a chance for snow.

Also, forecasters are tracking a major winter storm that could drop more than 6 inches of snow across the area Monday, which would be Chicago’s largest snowfall of the season.

Top story

Chicago ‘on track’ for bars and restaurants to reopen indoor service Saturday

Customers will be allowed back inside at bars and restaurants in Chicago and suburban Cook County beginning Saturday, barring a sudden reversal in improving coronavirus infection rates.

The city and Cook County will move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation plan as long as “metrics continue to improve or are stable,” the Illinois Department of Public Health announced today.

Tier 1 mitigations allow restaurants and bars that serve food to seat customers inside at the lesser of 25% capacity or 25 people per room. Bars that don’t serve food still aren’t allowed to invite patrons inside. Pritzker’s office has cited studies suggesting indoor establishments are viral super-spreading sites.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot limited the establishments to outdoor service and takeout in late October at the onset of the state’s record-breaking fall resurgence, which prompted Pritzker to nix indoor service statewide in mid-November. Lightfoot has since called for Pritzker to allow for limited reopening as infection rates have improved since the holidays.

The Democratic governor began throwing life rafts to the decimated hospitality industry last weekend, loosening the rigid infection and hospital metrics the state’s 11 regions are required to meet to see restrictions lifted.

Chicago and suburban Cook County will officially shed their current Tier 2 mitigations with three consecutive days of positivity rates below 8%. The regions first fell below that mark Thursday, with Chicago at 7.8% positivity and Cook County at 7.9%.

Bars that don’t serve food are allowed to reopen when a region enters Phase 4, which requires three consecutive days below 6.5% positivity.

So far, indoor service has already been allowed to resume in six of the state’s 11 regions, though hundreds of businesses have openly defied Pritzker’s order.

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. If Chicago teachers collectively refuse to return to their schools on Monday in defiance of Chicago Public Schools’ reopening orders, the district will consider the labor action a strike, schools chief Janice Jackson reiterated today. That means all classes, including remote ones, could come to a halt Monday.
  2. CPS will begin vaccinating its teachers in mid-February, officials announced today. CPS said it expects to offer inoculations to its teachers at four sites across the city.
  3. The Office of the Inspector General today called for the Chicago Police Department to make immediate changes to its policy on search warrants, which has come under heavy scrutiny in light of the botched raid at the home of Anjanette Young. The deputy inspector general said CPD should immediately amend its policy on search warrants to require a more thorough vetting process for a source’s information.
  4. Ballistics tests show the .45-caliber handgun used in a Jan. 9 terror spree that started on the South Side and ended in Evanston — leaving four people dead and three wounded — had been used in previous “shooting incidents” in Chicago, police said. Police believe the gun was on the street for a “long, long time,” one source said.
  5. Sheila Nix, an Oak Park resident who was a senior adviser in President Joe Biden’s campaign, will join the administration as chief of staff in the U.S. Department of Education. When ex-President Barack Obama was in the White House, Nix was chief of staff for then-second lady Jill Biden, the new first lady.

A bright one

Maxwell Street mural spotlights the history of the storied market and neighborhood

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Maxwell Street was home to a bustling open-air market where you could find almost anything for sale and at a good price if you knew how to bargain.

Maxwell Street and the surrounding neighborhood was home, too, to many of the Jewish immigrants who operated those stalls and stores, often living in apartments above them.

From the 1940s on, it also was the center of a lively blues scene.

This mural at 15th and Morgan streets was painted by Nick Goettling in 2013, depicting the old Maxwell Street market and its environs.
Provided

All of that faded over time as the Dan Ryan Expressway was built right through the fabled street, Mayor Richard J. Daley built the University of Illinois at Chicago and his son, Mayor Richard M. Daley, turned over what little remained by then of Maxwell Street to clout-heavy developers and further expansion for UIC.

You won’t find much in the faux Maxwell Street that’s there today to evoke the once-thriving marketplace.

But Nick Goettling says he aimed to keep the memory of Maxwell Street alive in the 82-feet-long and 12-feet-tall mural he painted on a retaining wall near 15th and Morgan streets in what’s known today as University Village.

It spotlights key moments in Maxwell Street’s history.

Read more about the mural and see more photos of it here.

From the press box

The Blackhawks play their first home game of the season tonight at 7 p.m. against the Detroit Red Wings (NBC Sports Chicago). They’ll play Detroit again Sunday at 11:30 a.m. (NBC-5). There won’t be any fans at the United Center, but the team is already working on creating a better experience when the gates do reopen.

With no summer league or post-draft minicamps, NBA rookies had an unusually difficult offseason. But the Bulls’ Patrick Williams found a way to work through it. He and his teammates face the Charlotte Hornets tonight at 6 p.m. (NBC Sports Chicago Plus) and the Los Angeles Lakers at 7 p.m. Saturday (NBC Sports Chicago).

White Sox shortstop and video game cover guy Tim Anderson likes how the team is shaping up for the upcoming season.

It appears that high school basketball is a go this season in all regions in Illinois that reach Phase 4 of COVID-19 mitigations.

And here are our first (and maybe last) Chicago sports media power rankings.

Your daily question ☕

Will you be venturing back inside restaurants and bars as indoor service resumes in Chicago this weekend? Tell us why, or why not.

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

Yesterday, we asked you: How have you been supporting Chicago’s art scene during the pandemic? Here’s what some of you said…

“I buy face masks made by a local designer, and we’ve watched concerts and theatre productions online.” — Carmie Daugird Callobre

“Donating to Hubbard Street and watching the amazing dance they are still creating!” — James Schulte

“I like sharing local murals on Instagram (chicagocolormurals). It’s great engaging with other Chicagoans regarding new art that pops up around the city. We have a lot of talented artists here doing great work. Public art is the best, in my opinion, because it’s accessible to everyone and it’s a really fun socially distant activity.” — Steph Rose

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

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