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Afternoon Edition: May 12, 2020

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

Michelle Latona, a Registered Nurse at the Emergency Department at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Tyler LaRiviere/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 mostly sunny, with a high near 61 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 42 degrees. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 66 degrees, and we can expect similarly warm days for the rest of the week.

Top story

Michelle Latona says she’s no hero — she’s just a nurse doing her job

In honor of International Nurses Day, we’re spotlighting Michelle Latona, a nurse in the emergency department at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Though we might disagree, Latona doesn’t consider herself heroic: “No, I don’t,” she said. “I wake up every morning and I come to work and do my job.”

It’s a job that demands she tend to the sick and the dying for 12 hours at a stretch, juggling patients, rooms, medicines, doses, equipment, colleagues, hours, breaks, all the time keeping focused on the central task: making people well again. It was challenging and admirable work long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Chicago and changed everything.

“This is a trauma center,” she said. “We still have gunshots, car accidents. Kids still fall off bunk beds. Now there are extra precautions. We have to go under the assumption that everyone is positive until they’ve proven negative. The COVID adds a little bit of extra stress.”

Nurses are the tip of the spear. The National Nurses Union reports at least 50 nurses have died in the U.S. from the coronavirus, and some 10,000 have been sickened by it. The only reason the death toll isn’t higher is because nurses tend to be younger, and fitter. Latona says her main hobby outside the hospital is working out.

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

Latona knows what it’s like to have a family member diagnosed with the coronavirus and not be able to be by their side. In March, her mother got infected and was intubated in the ICU for three weeks.

“The worst part was, she was alone. I couldn’t go to the hospital with her,” Latona said. “She is in the ER by herself. She calls me and says, ‘They want to intubate me.’ I immediately started crying, because I knew what that meant. I hung up thinking, ‘Was that the last time I talked to my mother?’”

Her mother is now off the ventilator and recovering; in an odd way, her getting sick made her daughter an even better nurse.

“It makes me more empathetic and understanding of the stress family members are feeling, the panic they are having,” Latona said.

Asked what she likes most about nursing, Latona replied: “Our team here, we have such a strong team. We’re like family. We’re showing up. We’re picking up extra shifts. We’re filling in holes where we need to. We’re helping each other so much.”

Read the full story from Neil Steinberg.

More news you need

  1. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is appealing a federal judge’s order mandating the steps his office needs to take to social distance detainees and further curb the spread of the coronavirus at Cook County Jail. Dart said the lawsuit seeking the release or transfer of elderly and medically compromised detainees has negatively affected jail operations.
  2. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her top aides are wearing face masks and undergoing daily temperature checks, but she’s exploring additional measures to prevent the coronavirus from infecting the mayor’s office. So far, there have not been any COVID-19 cases among the senior staff, the mayor said.
  3. Another 144 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, raising the state’s death toll to 3,601. Today also marked a record-high number of new cases — 4,014 — although Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said that positive count came from 29,266 tests results.
  4. The Blue Angels performed a flyby in Chicago today to honor health care and other essential workers. Mitch Dudek talked to some of the doctors and nurses who watched from a rooftop at Rush University Hospital.
  5. Chicago food delivery services will be required to come clean about third-party delivery costs under new rules championed by the mayor. “That’s information that the consumer has a right to know so they can make choices wisely,” Lightfoot said.
  6. “Hamilton” fans will have something extra special to celebrate this Fourth of July weekend: Disney announced it will be releasing a film version of the Tony Award-winning stage musical on July 3. Miriam Di Nunzio has the details.

A bright one

Need to escape? How about a drive through Melbourne or Mumbai?

As summer rolls around, most of us would love to hop in the car, crank up the radio and just drive — for miles and miles.

Now you can, in a way. The “Drive and Listen” app, created by a Turkish graduate student, offers a driver’s view cruising through many of the world’s best-known cities — all while listening to a radio station from that city.

Erkam Seker, seen here on a trip to Los Angeles, has created an app that allows users to take virtual drives through many of the world’s best known cities. | Provided

“I was so bored at home, and I was missing a ride around my city,” said creator Erkam Seker, 24, speaking about Istanbul, Turkey. “I used to go out with my friends in a car. Watching the roads as we go is one of the most delicious parts of hanging out.”

The app offers excursions to places as far-flung as Melbourne, Australia, and Yekaterinburg, in west-central Russia, where the driver navigates snowy boulevards as streetcars. But it’s not a total escape. From time to time, a public service announcement cuts in to remind listeners to wear masks and practice good social distancing.

Read the full story from Stefano Esposito.

From the press box

On the 50th anniversary of Ernie Banks’ 500th career big league home run, Steve Greenberg uses his latest Just Sayin’ column to look back at the monumental moment for Mr. Cub. (Greenberg also has some takes in there on the latest episodes of “The Last Dance” from Sunday night.)

Meanwhile on Bears Twitter, Sun-Times beat reporter Patrick Finley recently fielded questions, including what happens if starting running back David Montgomery gets hurt next season.

Your daily question ☕

Today is International Nurses Day, so we want to know: Is there a nurse in your life you want to give a special shout out? Tell us about them, and send a photo if you can.

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 what a typical day of meals looks like for you and your family these days. Here’s what some of you said…

“Big breakfast brunch, small snack mid afternoon & medium sized dinner around 6-7 p.m.” — Katherine York

“The teenagers are social distancing themselves from us and eating whenever they want.” — SuzyBelle DeGrazio

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

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