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Afternoon Edition: Nov. 4, 2020

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

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.
AFP via Getty Images

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 unseasonably warm for a November day: This afternoon will be sunny and breezy with a high near 71 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 53 degrees. The balmy weather continues tomorrow, which will see more sunshine and a high near 68 degrees.

Top story

The two biggest challenges facing the next president — whether Trump or Biden

There are two immediate challenges facing the next president — right now, it’s not clear if it will be President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden — and both are related to the COVID-19 pandemic shaping this unprecedented election, according to our Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet.

The first is to find a way for Congress to pass another stimulus bill to rescue the coronavirus-ravaged economy, with gridlocked lawmakers and the Trump White House not able to strike a pre-election deal.

The second? Convince the public that if vaccines are rushed to the market — sprinting through federal approvals — the drugs are safe to use, given the pressure Trump has been putting on government officials.

Trump, trying to downplay the spike in cases that threatened him winning a second term, has been saying for weeks that a coronavirus pandemic vaccine ready for mass distribution across the U.S. will appear “momentarily.”

It’s not true. No drug is ready to be shipped “momentarily,” even with a generous, expansive definition of the word.

Of the notable items in this election cycle with the norm-busting Trump at the helm — who just makes things up — has been his campaign within his campaign to erode confidence in career scientists who don’t agree with his rosy pandemic forecasts and drug development timelines and mocking of people who wear masks.

As election results continue trickling in, you can follow live results here.

At a recent rally, his threat to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s popular, leading infectious-disease expert, prompted calls from the crowd to “Fire Fauci.”

Trump — who will be president at least until Jan. 20, 2021 — may well sack Fauci and other medical officials in the weeks ahead, but those kinds of moves will not inspire consumer confidence to take a vaccine if people don’t believe it will work. Or worse, that an unproven drug will make them sick.

Biden, who tried to make his third presidential bid a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, promised to “hire Fauci” if he wins the White House.

According to a national exit poll survey conducted for CNN, ABC News, CBS News and NBC News, combining interviews with voters who cast ballots on Election Day, earlier and by mail, 34% said the economy was the most important voting issue followed by 21% who said racial inequality and 18% who cited the pandemic.

What’s interesting is this: When asked “which is more important to do now,” 52% said containing the coronavirus, while 42% said rebuilding the economy should be a priority. The exit poll found 48% said the U.S. efforts to contain the disease are going “well” with 51% replying “badly.”

Against that backdrop, it’s clear what the priorities need to be, especially since the economic rebound is so tied to getting the pandemic under control.

Read Lynn Sweet’s full column here.

More news you need

  1. The group aiming to pass Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax conceded defeat today, but said “opponents must answer for whatever comes next.” The amendment needed a “yes” vote from a majority of voters, or 60% of people who specifically voted on the amendment.
  2. Not long ago, it was fairly common for the vote in Cook County to break down largely along racial and geographic boundary lines. We moved away from that for a while, but the race for state’s attorney threatened to take us back to those days. Mark Brown explains Kim Foxx’s win in his latest column.
  3. Democratic incumbent Rep. Sean Casten declared victory today in a close contest against former state representative and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives. As of 8 a.m., and with 99.7% precincts reporting, votes for Casten totaled 184,809, while votes for Ives totaled 167,629.
  4. Public health officials have reported 7,538 new COVID-19 cases, the state’s second-highest daily case count of the pandemic. The record high daily count was set on Halloween at 7,899. The next highest tally was 6,980 on Sunday, Nov. 1.
  5. A key player in the political bribery case involving ComEd will not participate in legislative hearings probing House Speaker Michael Madigan’s role in the scandal. Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez could have offered interesting testimony to a special House committee.

A bright one

Weed is a clear winner on Election Day as 6 suburbs vote to allow recreational sales and 5 states legalize pot in some form

As officials continue to tally votes in the contentious presidential race, one clear winner has already emerged from the 2020 election: Legal weed.

Voters in six Chicago suburbs approved ballot initiatives allowing the sale of recreational cannabis, and five states — New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and Mississippi — voted to legalize marijuana in some form.

With all precincts reporting in Cook County, a majority of voters in Elk Grove Village (63%), Mount Prospect (63%), Park Ridge (59%) and Wilmette (55%) all backed ballot measures paving the way for dispensaries to sell recreational pot.

A jar of marijuana flower for sale at NuEra Cannabis at 1308 W. North Ave.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Nearly 63% of voters in Batavia in Kane County also supported a similar referendum, while just over 51% of Glen Ellyn residents in DuPage County voted in favor of a ballot initiative there. All precincts were reporting in both suburbs, according to results maintained by county clerks’ offices.

Just over 10 months into Illinois’ experiment with recreational weed, sales are surging. Over $500 million worth of recreational pot was sold through October, when a new monthly record of $75 million in sales was recorded.

With over 100 recreational cannabis licenses still outstanding, pot firms will now have more places to potentially set up shop.

Read Tom Schuba’s full story here.

From the press box

Nick Foles does certain things well. The same goes for Mitchell Trubisky. Maybe the Bears’ best answer at quarterback involves using both of them, Rick Telander writes.

And while the country was focused on the election last night, three Chicago baseball stars earned Gold Glove Awards for their fielding prowess: the Cubs’ Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo on the NL side, and White Sox phenom Luis Robert on the AL side.

Your daily question ☕

How are you feeling about the presidential election as it stretches on?

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: What would you put into a pandemic time capsule to give future generations an idea of what this has been like? Here’s what some of you said…

“My bandanas I wear instead of masks, running shoes for the exercise regimen I’ve embraced and my cocktail shaker, which has seen a lot of extra use.” — Jason Batke

“A photo of Mom and I, our ‘I voted’ stickers and an Ankh, because our ancestors were protecting us during this menace.” — Joy L. Grossett

“A bottle of Malört. This year and that stuff left about the same aftertaste.” — Aaron Sondgeroth

“One of those cans of snakes that you can buy at a trick shop.” — Diana Romero Mendez

“Toilet paper, mask and many bottles of bourbon.” — Pete Herrnreiter

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

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