Afternoon Edition: Dec. 15, 2020

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

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Nurse Shannon Lesch administers the state’s first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination outside of Chicago to certified nursing assistant Chemical Jones, 41, at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in downstate Peoria on Tuesday.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/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.

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Afternoon Edition


Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

There’s a chance for flurries this afternoon, which will otherwise be cloudy with a high near 31 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 28 degrees. A 30 percent chance of snow is in the forecast for tomorrow, which will see a high near 35 degrees.

Top story

Chicago’s first COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered

Emergency room physician Dr. Marina Del Rios was the first person in Chicago to be vaccinated for COVID-19 today, one of five hospital workers to get shots.

“It’s really an honor to stand here and take part in this moment in history,” said Del Rios, director of Social Emergency Medicine at University of Illinois Health. “As an emergency physician who has been on the front lines of this pandemic since day one, I can attest that health care workers have been anxious for this day to come.”

Hospital health care workers will be the first to get inoculated, and, in the coming weeks, nursing home residents and staff will also be offered the vaccine.

All five shots were given this morning at The Loretto Hospital, a community health care provider in Austin that was selected by the city to receive and administer the first shots. Austin and the surrounding West Side have been hit hard by the virus, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot has promised an emphasis on vaccinating Black and Latino communities that bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases.

“Equity isn’t part of our COVID-19 strategy — it is our strategy,” Lightfoot said. “When it comes to our vaccine rollout, it will be leaving no one behind.”

Other hospitals will receive vaccine doses throughout the week. In all, Chicago is expected to receive 23,400 doses this week.

In addition to Del Rios, four other West Side hospital health care workers were vaccinated today: Elizabeth Zimnie, an emergency room nurse at Norwegian American Hospital on the West Side; Barbara Shields Johnson, a critical care nurse at Loretto; Jermilla Hill, a patient care technician at Loretto; and Mark Hooks, an emergency room nurse at Loretto.

“Many of us, especially those of us who identify with and serve Black and Latino communities, have lost co-workers, friends and family members,” Del Rios said. “We worry about the capacity to keep our patients safe in the setting of overcrowded hospitals. We worry about bringing COVID home to our families. We worry about getting ourselves sick.”

For health care workers, the initial vaccines are a sign of hope, she added: “This vaccine gives us some hope that there is an endpoint. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Shortly after the Chicago inoculations, five other health care workers received the vaccine at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

The first 109,000 doses are being distributed this week among 96 hospitals across the state, prioritizing the 50 counties suffering the highest per-capita coronavirus death rates. About 43,000 of those were delivered to hospitals today. Gov. J.B. Pritzker called it “a beginning for the state of Illinois.”

The first doses were administered 274 days after COVID-19 claimed its first life in Illinois on March 16. Since then, the virus has spread to more than 856,000 additional people, killing a total of 14,394 residents.

Read the story from Brett Chase and Mitchell Armentrout here.

More news you need

  1. The coronavirus has killed an additional 117 Illinoisans and spread to 7,359 more, public health officials announced today, as the state embarked on an unprecedented vaccination campaign. The new cases were diagnosed from 92,922 tests, lowering the state’s average positivity rate for an eighth straight day down to 8.6%.
  2. A state board today unanimously rejected a plan to close Mercy Hospital in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted 6-0 after about four hours of testimony.
  3. Jijo George, a 35-year-old maintenance mechanic for Envoy Air, died after being crushed by airplane equipment Sunday afternoon at O’Hare International Airport. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating his death.
  4. Six more cases tied to former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts were dropped today, bringing the total number of convictions vacated in connection to the corrupt cop to 101. For the last several years, the state’s attorney’s office has reexamined the prosecution of cases connected to Watts and a tactical unit he formerly led at the Ida B. Wells housing project.
  5. Amid skyrocketing demand for legal weed in Illinois, statewide tax receipts from recreational pot sales are now rivaling those from booze. November’s tax revenues from adult-use cannabis reached nearly $22.88 million. That’s less than $3 million shy of the roughly $25.74 million in taxes collected through alcohol sales last month.
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A bright one

‘Wonder Woman 1984’: The Amazon and the era a totally rad combination

The holidays might look a little different this year, but one tradition you don’t have to miss is watching a great movie on Christmas Day. Here’s an excerpt from Richard Roeper’s latest review, which seems like just the right thing to watch with your family — whether in the same house or not — and then discuss over hot chocolate on Zoom:

How formidable is Diana Prince/Wonder Woman?

You can put this in your MTV pipe and smoke it: Not even the garishly lit shopping malls and teased hairdos and questionable fashions and break dancers and red Trans-Ams of the 1980s can stop her from saving the world. Now THAT’S a superhero.

Three years after the visionary director Patty Jenkins and perfect-for-the-part Gal Gadot teamed up for the beautifully rendered, surprisingly deep mega-hit “Wonder Woman,” the oft-delayed sequel will be released in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 25 — and it’s a Christmas gift equal parts thrilling, comedic, romantic and action-packed, with a tone reminiscent of the Richard Donner “Superman” movies and the 2000s “Spider-Man” films.

To be sure, we get a classic comic book movie storyline about a megalomaniacal madman intent on taking over the world, but there’s often a relatively light tone to the proceedings. This is a throwback piece of pure pop entertainment.

Read the full review of “Wonder Woman 1984” here.

From the press box

Bears defensive lineman Mario Edwards has been charged with assault in North Carolina stemming from an alleged incident that occurred while the team was in Charlotte to play the Panthers. Edwards’ agent, Peter Schaffer, denied the allegations to the Sun-Times.

And in wake of the news that the Cleveland MLB franchise is dropping its longtime moniker, Rick Telander says getting rid of offensive team names is a sound idea, but history shows there’s always backlash.

Your daily question☕

How do you feel knowing that Chicago’s first COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered? Tell us what it means to you.

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’s keeping you going during this difficult time, and what’s giving you hope?Here’s what some of you said…

“Bloody Marys. Lots and lots of Bloody Marys… I’ve become an expert at making Bloody Marys.”— Antonio Cruz

“Walking every day, usually with a friend, keeps me going. What gives me hope is that I am healthy and looking forward to being with my children and grandkids in 2021.”— Tina Rotter

“Was the Bears. I looked forward to them all summer long. Now that’s kinda diminished, but I love football in general. It’s what gets me through the atrocious fall and early winter months.”— Brice Notardonato Ellett

“I have a seven-year-old to look after. It’s all about her.”— René Verastegui

“Knowing that nothing is permanent keeps me going and gives me hope.”— Mark Ruda

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

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