Afternoon Edition: April 2, 2020

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

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Marco DiFranco, who was assigned to the Narcotics Division based out of Homan Square, had been with CPD since 1998.

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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.

It’s a beautiful afternoon to spend some time outside, as long as you stay six feet away from others: sunny skies with a high near 59 degrees. Tonight, there’s a slight chance of showers, and the low will be around 42 degrees. Tomorrow’s weather will kick off the weekend right: partly sunny with a high near 63 degrees.

Top story

Chicago police officer dies from coronavirus

A veteran narcotics officer with the Chicago Police Department died from the coronavirus early this morning, officials said.

Interim CPD Supt. Charlie Beck identified the officer as 50-year-old Marco DiFranco. His death is the first in the nearly 14,000-person department, which has seen more than 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“His sacrifice underscores the threats that are faced by public safety employees who are not, by nature of their profession, allowed to shelter in place, shelter at home,” Beck said at a City Hall news conference, where was joined by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

DiFranco, who was assigned to the Narcotics Division based out of the department’s Homan Square facility, had been with CPD since 1998.

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DiFranco leaves behind two children, ages 7 and 10, and has a brother who is also a Chicago police officer. DiFranco’s family, as well as his brother, are all in quarantine, Beck said.

It was not immediately clear if the officer’s family would receive line-of-duty death benefits. “We’re looking at all circumstances,” Beck said. “It’s way too early to do that at this point.”

Since the virus first hit the area, Chicago police officers “have been putting their lives on the line every day to fight this virus and keep Chicagoans safe,” Lightfoot said at the news conference.

DiFranco is the second city employee to die from the virus, Lightfoot said. Yesterday, the mayor announced the first death of a city employee, but offered no other information about who the person was, or what department they worked in.

DiFranco contracted the virus last week and was hospitalized this last weekend, Lightfoot said. He worked undercover and therefore had minimal public contact, Beck said; Lightfoot said he was in a one-officer car.

“This officer was an example of what our first responders … are doing every day,” said Lightfoot.

Read the full story from Fran Spielman and Sam Charles.

More news you need

  1. Illinois health officials said another 16 people have died today from the coronavirus, with another 715 new cases being reported. The numbers are lower than yesterday’s totals, when a record-high 42 deaths were recorded. 
  2. One year ago to day, Lori Lightfoot swept all 50 wards to become the first African-American woman and first openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago. She reflected on her landslide win in an interview with Fran Spielman.
  3. More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier — a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s where economists predict we’ll be by the end of April, and you can see Illinois’ numbers here.
  4. Civil rights attorneys launched a coordinated legal challenge today to demand the release of Illinois prisoners most vulnerable to the coronavirus. The effort includes a proposed class-action lawsuit that names Gov. J.B. Pritzker as a defendant.
  5. The International Medical Corps intends to set up 20 field hospitals across the country, including in Chicago, as cities brace for a surge of hospitalizations. Each can be constructed in about six hours and withstand 80 mph winds.
  6. Illinois dispensaries have sold nearly $110 million in recreational marijuana since the drug was fully legalized in January. That’s way more than what some other states sold in their first few months of legal weed sales.
  7. The Second City, Chicago’s 60-year-old warhorse of improv and sketch comedy, is live-streaming a performance for the first time tonight. Here’s how to watch on Zoom for free.
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A bright one

Ten days ago, Orland Park native Michael Arundel — home from college because of the coronavirus — offered in a Facebook post to grocery shop for seniors in the area and deliver free of charge. He only asked to be reimbursed for the groceries.

The calls started coming in. His oldest and closest friends joined in the effort. Then, dozens of other college kids reached out to help.

He dubbed the operation “Leave it to us.”


Orland Park native Michael Arundel shops for seniors citizens after starting a free grocery shopping and delivery program that’s mushrooming around the country. | Provided

On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker praised Arundel in his daily coronavirus news conference that’s broadcast live across the region. Within hours, Arundel was flooded with hundreds of emails and phone calls.

“When I started getting calls, it just lit up my face,” he said. “I get the same reaction every time.”

The project is no longer just local. Arundel is working with volunteer coordinators to expand the service to cities across the country, including Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego and Salt Lake City. A chapter is already up and running in Tuscaloosa, where Arundel attends the University of Alabama.

“I plan on doing this indefinitely until the virus is over and we’re back to normal,” he said.

Read the full story from Mitch Dudek, which includes information on how to get involved in Arundel’s efforts.

From the press box

White Sox play-by-play announcer Ed Farmer, a South Side native and former MLB pitcher who became a radio broadcasting icon, died last night in Los Angeles of complications from a previous illness. He was 70.

Farmer grew up in Evergreen Park before playing 11 big league seasons with eight different teams. After retiring from playing, he spent the last 28 years calling White Sox games, first as a color commentator from 1992 to 2005 before moving to play-by-play.

Your daily question☕

We’re settling into our new (temporary) normal, but anxieties are still high for many. We want to know: What worries you the most about the coronavirus?

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 to tell us about the best April Fools’ Day prank you’ve ever pulled off. Here’s what some of you said on Facebook…

“My daughter in law used glue and cereal with a spoon in it and gave it to my granddaughter. The look on her face when she couldn’t get the spoon out was priceless. When she was told April Fools her smile and laughter was contagious,” wrote Terri Jeffries.

“My husband was a firefighter at Ft. Carson, Colorado. We often sent food for the entire crew. I sent a sponge cake actually made with sponge,” Vanessa Lehnig Hallwrote.

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

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