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Afternoon Edition: April 30, 2020

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

During Capri Reese’s standard 12-hour shift Tuesday, three patients suffering from COVID-19 died.
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.

This long stretch of rain is finally behind us: This afternoon will be cloudy, then gradually sunny with a high near 51 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 41 degrees. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 58 degrees, perfect to kick off the weekend.

Top story

‘Our worst day’: The fight to treat patients, keep staffed

If Capri Reese can’t find someone to step into her shoes, she can’t go home.

“All of a sudden we’re down five staff in one day,” said the 12-year veteran nurse at Roseland Community Hospital, who Tuesday had to track down coworkers on their day off and get them to the hospital, in addition to all her usual duties.

“I see patients, treat patients, respond to codes, rapid response, intubate, order tests, write prescriptions,” Reese said. “All of those things, and I’m also covering for the CNO — the chief nursing officer.”

Reese gave us an inside look at what it’s like to work her shift, where she tackled everything from code blue alarms — hospital jargon for when a patient’s heart stops beating — to restocking protective gowns.

The five holes in the 14-person staff, including someone to do Reese’s job after her 12-hour shift, are the result of exhaustion, stress, ordinary ailments like the flu, plus absences related to COVID-19 — nurses battling it themselves, caring for a relative who’s sick, or watching their children because daycare centers are closed.

The first person with COVID-19 came into Roseland on March 15. During her Tuesday shift, three patients died from the virus. “It was our worst day,” Reese said.

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

She’s not immune to the pressure, either. Last week, a woman was near death. No family could be present, so a nurse held a phone while the dying woman’s daughter said her goodbyes, apologizing for not being the child she should have been. Then the nurse handed the phone to Reese, to flee the room, weeping. When she returned, Reese handed the phone back to her and left the room; she had to cry, too.

“We never had the chance to talk about it,” said Reese, of the second nurse. “We had another rapid response.”

At 7 p.m. Reese was able to go home after 12 hours on duty; someone agreed to come in on their day off. At her modest South Loop apartment, she stripped off her lab coat and cleaned her shoes with antiseptic wipes. Then, still wearing a mask, she took off her aqua scrubs and put them directly into the washing machine — that, and a shower, are conveniently near the doorway. She stepped into the shower — some alone time, to assemble her game face for her family.

“It’s scary,” she said. “I am, to be honest, scared. I have broken down, several times. But if you know me, I’m a ‘There’s-no-crying-in-baseball’ kind of person. I have to keep a strong face in front of my family.”

Read the full story from Neil Steinberg and Ashlee Rezin Garcia.

More news you need

  1. A church in northwestern Illinois has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide restrictions amid the coronavirus, seeking an immediate injunction that would allow it to conduct worship services. The complaint says the church intends to “reopen and hold public worship services this Sunday.”
  2. The Latino community in Illinois has caught up with African Americans in confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and could have the greatest number of patients among all races and ethnic groups within days. Carlos Ballesteros breaks down the numbers.
  3. The Chicago Fire Department commander who owns the Galewood townhome where a house party was held said she was “blindsided” by her son’s decision to host the crowded party and would never have allowed it during a pandemic. Fran Spielman talked to Paramedic Cmdr. Christine Matthews.
  4. As Gov. J.B. Pritzker prepares to sign an extended stay-at-home executive order, officials said another 141 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois. Today marks the second-highest daily death toll the state has seen during the pandemic.
  5. A woman who was struck in the face by a foul ball during a Cubs game at Wrigley Field two years ago has filed a lawsuit against the team and Major League Baseball. Laiah Zuniga, 28, says the ball knocked her unconscious, caused fractures under both of her eyes and extensive damage to her teeth.
  6. Mayor Lori Lightfoot danced in her inaugural TikTok today to announce Chicago’s first-ever, virtual citywide high school commencement celebration hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Nader Issa has the details.

A bright one

Chicago-area kids look ahead to ‘brighter days’ with their prize-winning artwork

Chicago-area kids are showing us that there’s still a lot of light, a lot of hope, and that despite what we’re all going through during the coronavirus pandemic, brighter days are ahead.

For a student art contest we called The Imagination Project, we invited students from elementary school through high school to submit their original artwork inspired by the theme “Brighter Days.”

Downers Grove fifth-grader Riley P.

We received 450 submissions from all across the city and suburbs. It was so hard to choose the winners that we added an extra award in each of the three age categories: elementary, middle and high school.

Now, we’re showcasing the winning artwork — like Downers Grove fifth-grader Riley P.’s drawing above — along with critiques by Chicago-area artists Sam Kirk, Jeff Zimmermann and Lauren Asta, and we will highlight more of the submitted artworks in days to come.

Check out more of the winning works, and what Chicago artists had to say about them.

From the press box

The first big decision for the new Bulls front office is what to do with head coach Jim Boylen, who’s been painted in reports as someone who expects to be back with the team next season. It’s a critical decision that could leave a lasting impact on Michael Reinsdorf’s legacy as an NBA owner, Joe Cowley writes.

Your daily question ☕

What’s your favorite family recipe? We’re taking submissions for our recipe swap. Send us the full recipe, with some photos, and yours might be featured!

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 how you think life will be different once the pandemic ends. Here’s what some of you said…

“People will definitely think twice about putting their elderly family members in nursing homes. I would never consider that after living through this pandemic.” — Patrick Bryant

“Hopefully the way people treat each other; this virus is teaching us how not to take the little things for granted.” — Azell Edwards

“People that can work from home now will largely expect to continue that into the future.” — Sam White

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

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