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Afternoon Edition: April 17, 2020

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

Paul Richard was diagnosed with the coronavirus and spent two weeks at Advocate Trinity Hospital on the South Side.
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.

Happy Friday! The high this afternoon will be near 39 degrees, and the low will be around 33 degrees. This weekend will be much warmer. (Could winter finally be behind us?) Saturday will be sunny with a high near 56 degrees and Sunday will be cloudy with a high around 50 degrees.

Top story

These Chicagoans know what it’s like to face coronavirus and survive

They were among the unwilling pioneers of a disease that has sickened thousands in Illinois alone.

Stricken in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic’s spread through the United States, they knew they could experience little more than a sore throat and fever — or end up in a hospital on a ventilator, or die.

Now, they know what it’s like to have faced COVID-19 and emerged. They are survivors, and they told us their stories, describing symptoms, treatment and how they came out on the other side.

One of our subjects is Paul Richard. As a Chicago firefighter, he once climbed to the top of a 100-foot-tall crane to safely talk down a young man who was threatening to jump.

Another time, Richard was trapped in a high-rise filling with black smoke. He passed out, and awoke in a hospital bed with a priest leaning over him.

“I’ve been blown up, broken up, banged up,” said Richard, now 69 and retired.

We’re making our vital coronavirus coverage free for all readers. See the latest news here.

In the past week, Richard, who lives in Beverly, survived a different kind of ordeal — coming home after two weeks at Advocate Trinity Hospital on the South Side battling COVID-19. The virus attacked his kidneys, liver and immune system.

“Oh, brother, you better believe I was scared,” said Richard, who is now recovering at home. “I didn’t know what was going on. It was like I was in a daze.”

His half-brother drove him to the hospital about two and a half weeks ago. That was after he’d been feeling so weak he barely could tie his shoes. It felt like a “little elephant” was sitting on his chest.

On Tuesday, he got out of the hospital. But while he was there, Richard’s older brother got sick and died. A retired U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam, Richard says he’ll grieve in his own way.

“I’m not one of those big boo-hoo guys,” he said.

After a life of so many escapes, he’s looking forward to a full recovery.

“It’s hard to keep a good man down,” he said.

Read the full story from Stefano Esposito, which includes stories from others who have survived the coronavirus.

More news you need

  1. Illinois officials today announced 62 more deaths due to the coronavirus and a record-high number of newly confirmed cases. The state has now lost 1,134 people to the outbreak.
  2. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced that he is closing the state’s schools for in-person instruction through the end of the academic year because of the coronavirus. “Science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine,” Pritzker said.
  3. A man and three women who live at a Lincoln Park nursing home died this week after contracting the coronavirus. Ten more people at St. Mary’s Home have been diagnosed with the illness.
  4. City officials have confirmed that the COVID-19 field hospital at McCormick Place has started accepting patients. The alternate care facility is being built to handle overflow from the city’s hospitals.
  5. Emilia Pontarelli, the matriarch of Tony’s Italian Deli on Northwest Highway in Edison Park, has died of the coronavirus at 93. Maureen O’Donnell talked to Pontarelli’s family about her life.
  6. From 1947 to 1969, more than 12,000 UFO sightings were reported, and 701 were categorized as “unidentified,” according to FBI records we obtained. But J. Allen Hynek, a Chicago-born astronomer who studied UFO reports for the Air Force, was highly skeptical of the phenomenon, records show.

A bright one

If you can’t get enough of the cute penguins waddling around the empty Shedd Aquarium while it’s closed to the public, this one’s for you.

A new social media campaign from Gov. J.B. Pritzker features the governor offering advice on staying safe and containing the coronavirus alongside Shedd’s biggest stars — including Wellington, the aquarium’s oldest and perhaps most popular penguin.

“All right now, 6 feet apart, everyone,” Pritzker tells a group of penguins waddling around the Shedd. “Wellington, come on back,” he says to the 32-year-old rockhopper, who had wandered off. Impressively, Wellington listens and rejoins the group of penguins walking in order — 6 feet apart.

The governor also shared some important information with the otters and garden eels, as well as some fish.

“What is this, Lollapalooza?” Pritzker asks a school of fish in a tank. “All right. Too many of you together. Schooling groups of 10 or less. Break it up.”

Read the full story from Tina Sfondeles.

From the press box

The NFL is prepping for its scaled down draft next week. If you’re wondering how exactly the virtual draft will work, Patrick Finely breaks it down.

With Bulls nostalgia filling the air — thanks to Sunday’s premiere of the documentary “The Last Dance”— we decided to look back at 23 stories marking 23 top moments in Michael Jordan’s career.

And if you’re looking for something to stream to get in the mood, here’s a list of the top 25 sports movies.

Your daily question ☕

As we head into the weekend, we want to know: What part of social distancing has been the hardest for you?

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

Yesterday was #ThankfulThursday, so we asked you what you’re thankful for. Here’s what some of you said…

“I’m thankful for my family, our church, our home, the robins making a nest on our front porch, the buds on the trees, the daffodils in the garden. All signs of hope and new life.” — Janis Prehn

“The ability to appreciate all the things I was taking for granted.” — Annie Mcelligott

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

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