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Afternoon Edition: April 6, 2020

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

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a press conference at Soldier Field today.
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 afternoon will be partly sunny with some showers after 4 p.m. and a high near 62 degrees. Tonight, more rain and some possible thunderstorms. The low will be around 51 degrees. Tomorrow will be the warmest day we’ve seen in a while: a high near 74 degrees is in the forecast.

Top story

Lightfoot declares ‘public health red-alarm’ about racial disparity in COVID-19 deaths

Even though just 29% of the city’s population is African American, 70% of the 86 Chicago residents who have died from the coronavirus were black, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said today.

“It’s devastating to see those numbers and knowing that they’re not just numbers. They’re lives. There’s families and communities that have been shattered. That’s why we will be announcing a very robust and immediate, comprehensive plan to address this,” the mayor said.

Lightfoot said the numbers need to be viewed in the context of the alarm the Department of Public Health has sounded for years: There are “equity and health access disparities all across our city,” and particularly in black and brown communities, she said.

“We know the problems of diabetes, of heart disease, of respiratory illness are really prevalent in communities of black and brown folks. We know that access to health care is a similar challenge in a lot of those communities,” the mayor said.

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic brought everyday life in Chicago to a halt, Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady had said her primary goal was narrowing the nine-year gap in life expectancy between black and white Chicagoans.

To combat infant mortality, one of the five driving forces behind that gap, the city launched a pilot program last fall to have a home nurse visit inner-city mothers three weeks after they give birth.

Three months later, West Side hospitals and the Chicago-based American Medical Association agreed to contribute $6 million — nearly twice their prior commitment — to community and health improvements on the West Side.

The mayor acknowledged “decades of health disparities” cannot be erased “in a few days or a week.”

But, she said: “We have to impress upon people in these communities that there are things that they can do, there are tools at their disposal to help themselves. … We have to call this out … and make sure that we have a very robust, multi-tiered response now and going forward. And we will.”

Read the full story from Fran Spielman.

More news you need

  1. Illinois health officials today said another 33 people have died from the coronavirus, bringing the state’s death total to 307. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said the virus has now spread to 75 of 102 counties.
  2. A series of public health exercises took place in Chicago last year to prepare for a pandemic like the one that’s crippling America today. But even after last year’s “Crimson Contagion” exercise, City Hall wasn’t fully ready for today’s crisis. Frank Main and Lauren FitzPatrick outline the gaps in the city’s preparedness.
  3. A ProPublica Illinois and Chicago Tribune investigation, “The Quiet Rooms,” sparked a statewide ban on physically restraining students as punishment. But a small group of schools lobbied against the measure, and Illinois has reversed its ban.
  4. Several attorneys and civil rights groups have filed a class-action lawsuit against Sheriff Tom Dart seeking to remove more detainees from Cook County Jail amid the outbreak of COVID-19 there. The lawsuit calls for the immediate release or transfer of detainees who are older or have underlying medical conditions.
  5. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has issued an executive order to delay the state’s presidential primary for two months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The move injects new uncertainty about whether the election will move forward.
  6. Quibi, a new streaming service, features dozens of scripted and unscripted shows in daily episodes, all 10 minutes or less. Richard Roeper sampled a number of the higher-profile offerings, and shared his thoughts.

A bright one

These are obviously tough times we’re experiencing, but we know this much is true: Brighter days are ahead, hopefully sooner rather than later.

And with more time at home, we know that Chicago kids are looking for new ways to unleash their creativity.

So today, we launched an art contest for Chicago-area children called “The Imagination Project”: elementary, middle and high school kids are invited to submit paintings, drawings or computer-aided graphic creations for consideration.

The theme of the artwork should be “Brighter Days.” We chose that concept because, to us, it’s hopeful and an indicator of better times ahead. But it’s up to the kids to interpret the theme and create their own vision.

Winners will get prizes and see their art published by the Sun-Times. Each will also get a free one-year digital subscription to the Sun-Times. (See parents, there’s something in this for you, too.)

Click here to read the contest rules and learn how to submit artwork. The deadline is April 24.

From the press box

All eight of Chicago’s major sports teams – the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, Fire, Sky and Red Stars – have joined forces with Mayor Lightfoot to urge fans to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re not playing, and neither are we. The more we stay home and act responsibly, the more lives we’ll save,” Lightfoot said today at Soldier Field.

Your daily question ☕

How has your routine changed when you need to restock your groceries?

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 what you’ve discovered in recent days as we’ve all had to spend so much more time staying home. Here’s what some of you said…

“I love taking walks around my neighborhood!” wrote Bren Bren on Facebook.

“My kitchen chairs were NOT made for sitting in all day. #ouch,” Julia Doyle wrote on Facebook.

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

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