Afternoon Edition: March 23, 2020

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

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Jack Siebert takes online classes while quarantined in his family’s basement. | Provided

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.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a high near 43 degrees. The low tonight will be around 33 degrees. Tomorrow, we could see some rain in the afternoon, and the high will be around 47 degrees.

Top story

How one Chicago family is dealing with a case of coronavirus — confirmed days after being stuck at O’Hare

Ever since Jack Siebert tested positive for the coronavirus, he’s been quarantined in the basement of his family’s Old Town house.

He was six weeks into his study abroad trip in Spain earlier this month when he came down with what he calls a “nasty fever.” The next weekend, the 20-year-old college junior found himself in a packed crowd at O’Hare Airport, waiting hours to get through customs and baggage claim as he scrambled to get home. Monday, he tested positive.

His mom, Kate Siebert, who started showing COVID-19 symptoms before her son got back from Madrid, is isolated upstairs. Because her son tested positive, doctors told Kate Siebert to assume that she had also contracted the coronavirus, but she has not been tested.

There are four Sieberts at home, and they’re all living distinctly different lives. They told us what it’s like to be quarantined when two family members have the coronavirus, and two others are trying their best to remain healthy:

Kate is living and working in her son’s old room, while her son, a theater student at New York University, wakes up in the basement and gets on his laptop for his online classes. His sister, who also just got back from college, does the same in her room.

John Siebert, Jack’s dad, is busy cooking and cleaning the house. He constantly scrubs counters and doorknobs and hangs up reminders for Kate and Jack to put on their masks if they leave their rooms.

“He’s having to do everything,” Kate said. “My husband and my daughter do all the work cooking and cleaning and bringing us meals. I feel terrible that it’s hard on them.”

The quarantined mom and son eat breakfast and lunch alone after John drops it off at their door. But they like to share dinner together in the basement, away from the others.

“I’m envious of the families who can play games and do puzzles,” Kate said. “We can’t do that together, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

But both Jack and Kate said they feel lucky they don’t have underlying medical conditions and aren’t immunocompromised. Their biggest worry is for healthcare workers and other essential employees, like their family friends who work in grocery stores.

“I think we all just have to really take care of each other,” Kate said.

Read the full story from Nader Issa.

More news you need

  1. While life for many Chicagoans has come to a grinding halt, shootings continue to plague communities on the South and West sides. By Sunday evening, 10 people had been gunned down in weekend shootings across the city.
  2. A 21-year-old man is facing charges after saying he was infected with the coronavirus and coughing into Chicago police officers’ faces in Rogers Park. What police say happened.
  3. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this morning that the city of Chicago will be “repurposing” empty hotel rooms as “isolation and quarantine spaces” for coronavirus patients. She also shared a personal reflection that helped inform the decision.
  4. Teams of Cook County judges this week will begin reviewing thousands of criminal cases with a goal of reducing the number of inmates in jail in response to the coronavirus. There are currently 5,600 inmates inside the sprawling jail complex.
  5. Attorney General Kwame Raoul has been getting complaints against businesses accused of jacking up prices during the pandemic. Here’s how he’s putting a stop to it while investigators stay home.
  6. With gyms across Chicago closed, working out requires a bit more creativity these days. We’ve got what you need to break a sweat at home: 36 videos on how to do everything from centering yoga poses to basic kickboxing moves. Start your workout.
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A bright one

Rob McMillan’s small business, like most others deemed non-essential, has been forced to close shop as Illinois officials try anything and everything to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

So McMillan, the founder and owner of Chicago-based Dearborn Denim & Apparel, decided to try something new to possibly help fill a dire need: switching over from making jeans and t-shirts to making masks out of the cotton he has on hand.


Rob McMillan, founder and owner of Dearborn Denim, poses with a prototype of a fabric mask. | Provided

McMillan’s move comes as hospitals across the country are scrambling to deal with a well-documented shortage of personal protective equipment — or PPE — that keeps health care workers safe from infection while treating contagious patients.

“I think it’s great that we have an opportunity to help out,” he said. “I don’t even know if these things are going to be helpful. But hopefully, we can contribute in a meaningful way.”

Though cloth or homemade masks should be used as a “last resort” and are not considered PPE, it’s better than wearing no mask at all because it might offer at least one barrier of protection, some experts say.

Read the full story.

From the press box

Sports fans lost another good thing to look forward to today as the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was postponed, likely to 2021. “The Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know,” IOC member Dick Pound said.

The Bears have stayed busy, though, with outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo signing a one-year deal last night. The Bears will be Mingo’s sixth team in the last six seasons.

Your daily question ☕

Sun-Times reporter Tina Sfondeles — who’s working from home, like much of our newsroom — posited this great question on Twitter, and we want your answers, too: What are the top three bars you missed sitting at over the weekend?

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

Friday, we asked you to tell us about your favorite board game or puzzle. Here’s what some of you said:

“Good board game to play is Catan or Ticket to ride,” CJ Morgan wrote on Facebook.

“I just bought The Big Bang Theory Trivia Game at Half Price Books!” wrote Katie Kas.

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

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