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Afternoon Edition: Nov. 20, 2020

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

Bonnie Blue, who participated in a COVID-19 vaccine trial, initially wasn’t going to volunteer but decided to do so when she saw how many people were dying.
Joshua Clark/University of Illin

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, everyone! This afternoon will be partly sunny with a high near 59 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 36 degrees. Tomorrow will be cloudy, with a high near 44 degrees before a rainy Sunday that will see the same high: 44 degrees.

Top story

Coronavirus vaccines will face a deep distrust in the Black community

As part of a network of Black pastors, the Rev. Floyd James is working with Rush University Medical Center to establish more coronavirus testing on the West Side.

James, the pastor of Greater Rock Missionary Baptist Church in North Lawndale, also has been trying to put doctors in touch with community members to help answer questions about COVID-19, which has spread aggressively in Black communities on the West Side and South Side.

Hospitals like Rush, one of Chicago’s biggest, have been trying desperately to recruit people of color for vaccine research to help ensure the therapies are safe and effective in the most vulnerable populations.

But that’s a tough sell, according to James, who — along with two dozen family members — came down with the virus earlier this year and says it left him feeling “like Mike Tyson’s punching bag.”

He’s uncertain whether many West Side residents will get a shot once the vaccines are available, let alone take part in the studies making sure they work.

“We’ve been hoodwinked so many times with vaccines,” James says, repeating a sentiment often heard in Black communities. “We’ve been experimented on by the government, by the scientific community and the hospitals.”

There is a deep distrust among many Blacks regarding medical studies. The U.S. government’s Tuskegee syphilis research — which withheld treatment of poor Black men over a 40-year period — often comes up. That wariness has been reflected in low participation by Blacks in medical studies in Chicago and nationally.

“The mistrust built up over years is well-founded,” says Dr. Monica Peek, an associate professor of medicine and a health disparities researcher at the University of Chicago. “There have been repeated experiences that degrade the value of Black lives — not only in health care.”

That’s a problem hospitals have to address, Peek said, because Black and Latino Chicagoans are being infected with COVID-19 and dying from the virus at disproportionately high rates compared with whites. Blacks account for more than twice as many coronavirus deaths as whites, and Latinos account for the highest number of cases, more than double that of whites, city data show.

It’s a tough challenge for Chicago’s large academic hospitals, which are still trying to recruit hundreds of volunteers to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, but are struggling to recruit enough Black and Brown participants. African Americans have been particularly hard to enlist.

When the University of Illinois Hospital at Chicago put out a call for vaccine study volunteers over the summer, it aimed to get at least 1,000 — a majority of them Black and Latino. More than 8,000 people volunteered for the trial of the vaccine made by biotech company Moderna. But most of them were white. UIC and the University of Chicago, its research partner, eventually recruited a majority of minority participants. But the overall number of people in the trial ended up less than 500.

The story doesn’t end there. Keep reading Brett Chase’s report.

More news you need

  1. State public health officials reported 13,012 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 126 deaths today, the first day of new, statewide restrictions aimed at curbing a resurgence of the coronavirus. As of last night, 6,111 people were hospitalized around the state with COVID-19.
  2. Insisting that “enough is enough,” an agitated federal judge ordered a convicted fraudster into prison today after the feds say she squandered thousands from a $150,000 COVID-19 loan. Prosecutors said Crystal Lundberg used the money — meant for small businesses struggling through the pandemic — on travel and legal bills, electronics, clothing and more.
  3. Someone threw a brick through the front window of Ald. Ray Lopez’s Southwest Side office last night, the fourth instance of vandalism targeting his properties this year. He told us he believes the vandalism is gang related.
  4. A former professor at Chicago State University has been indicted on federal charges that she embezzled money from a student group dedicated to improving representation for people of color in the pharmaceutical industry. Carmita Coleman, 49, allegedly stole $651,272 from the student group when she served as its executive director.
  5. The CTA’s holiday train and bus will resume their annual journeys around Chicago this season, but commuters won’t be able to enjoy the festivities as they usually do due to new safety measures against the coronavirus pandemic. Customers won’t be able to board the CTA holiday train or bus this year.

A bright one

Lincoln Park bakery puts gourmet pies on Englewood tables for Thanksgiving

One bakery in Lincoln Park is doing its part this Thanksgiving to share a piece of the pie with residents of the Englewood neighborhood.

Now through Sunday night at 11:59 p.m., orders for Vanille Patisserie’s one-of-a-kind holiday pies will contribute directly to a give-back program that ensures Englewood families are able to set their tables with the decadent desserts, too.

For every 10 pies sold — options include Pumpkin with Cinnamon Whipped Cream, Apple Streusel, Traditional Pecan, Nutella French Silk and Apricot and Cranberry Walnut Streusel Pie — Vanille will donate one pie to a family in need. Customers can also “sponsor” pies for the program with discounted rates of 2 pies for $40, 4 pies for $75 or 6 pies for $100.

Vanille Patisserie owner Sophie Evanoff racks pies made for giving away next week in Englewood.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

It’s all through an exclusive partnership with I Grow Chicago, a not-for-profit servicing a 25-block radius within Englewood that has a mission to grow the community from surviving to thriving through connection, job opportunities and skill-building — and has been providing resources for residents throughout COVID-19.

“We have committed to providing pies for 250 families, and we are very excited to be halfway there with a great response to the program,” says Vanille Patisserie owner Sophie Evanoff, a trained French pastry chef who led Vanille to be recognized as one of the best bakeries in America by Time Out Magazine in 2016.

Read the full story to learn how to place your order.

From the press box

The bye week will give the Bears time to answer some questions, including if Mitch Trubisky should be reinstated as the starting quarterback.

Illinois coach Lovie Smith wants to see if his team can continue making progress after getting its first victory last week. The Illini face Nebraska tomorrow (11 a.m., FS1).

Meanwhile, undefeated Northwestern sees a path to the Big Ten championship game. West Division rival Wisconsin, which is also unbeaten and has its own title hopes, will try to derail the Wildcats tomorrow (2:30 p.m., ABC-7).

Your daily question ☕

What’s something you do for fun on weekends, while the usual entertainment, like going to restaurants and bars, is unavailable?

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: What are you most thankful for in this otherwise difficult year? Here’s what some of you said…

“After an 11 week stint in the hospital (not COVID related), I’m thankful for being alive.” —Monty Scruggs

“One of my foster kittens had to go in the hospital on Monday and was not expected to live. She was in ICU and stayed strong, and I got to pick her up and bring her home yesterday.” — Gloria Warshaw

“In hard times and good I am thankful for my kids and grandkids. Without them I’m nothing.” — Carol Wortel

“God gave me a new job, November 1 last year, and it’s the perfect job in COVID times. I am deeply grateful my family is healthy. I am thrilled we have a new President Elect and an entire new administration.” — Sandra Kay Hansen

“Laughter: that people I know and care about can still make each other laugh during these hard times.” — Mike Danahey

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

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