Afternoon Edition: May 22, 2020

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

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Workers demonstrate a no-touch elevator dispatch system that Sterling Bay has installed in their West Loop office building.


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.

Happy Friday! This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 69 degrees; tonight’s low will be around 56 degrees. It’ll be much warmer this weekend, but showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for both days: Saturday will see a high near 76 degrees, while Sunday’s high will be 84 degrees.

Top story

Chicago’s new normal: How reopened workplaces will look different due to the coronavirus pandemic

Picture your office before COVID-19 hit Chicago. Could you reach your closest colleague from your desk for a high five? Did you keep your lunch in a communal fridge, and fill up your coffee mug from the shared coffee machine?

As the city moves toward slowly reopening the economy, workplaces will be forced to adjust to the new reality. For many — particularly the front-line workers who have borne the brunt of risk and hardship during the pandemic — little will change. Then, there’s the rest of us, those fortunate enough to be able to work remotely and shelter in place in recent months.

One thing that seems certain is that working from home will endure, experts on workplace trends say.

But when people do get back to the office, things will be different, starting with the easiest changes. Masks could be required. Deep-cleaning crews will be purposely visible. And there will be signs and floor markers reinforcing the need for social distancing. Many predict that staggered start times will become common.

For years, the priority in office design has been to reduce the amount of space per employee. Now, companies are taking some chairs out of conference rooms and thinning out workstations, perhaps removing every other chair.

Less apparent to some, especially in the newest offices, will be ventilation systems that draw in more fresh air and provide greater filtration, said Patrick Biesty, vice president of engineering for development firm Sterling Bay. Chicago architect James Goettsch, chairman of Goettsch Partners, also made that point, and foresees the day when buildings’ air-quality data will be displayed on monitors alongside news headlines.

What isn’t going to be happening, real estate experts said, is a wholesale reworking of office layouts.

Most companies are skipping that for now: “They are staying flexible on working from home,” John Goodman, vice chairman of the office tenant brokerage Savills, said. “They think this will be solved by [workplace] policy as opposed to spending a lot of capital on reworking the space.”

Read the full story from David Roeder for more on how experts predict workplaces will change moving forward.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is on track to “cautiously reopen” by early June. But reopening the lakefront could still be a ways away.
  2. Chicago clergy say the changing face of religion in the era of COVID-19, etched by forced technological pivots, will affect how America worships long after congregants return en masse to church. Maudlyne Ihejirika spoke to local religious leaders about the challenges ahead.
  3. President Donald Trump has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential.” He’s calling on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the threat of spreading COVID-19.
  4. Chicago Public Schools plans to end its maligned relationship with two facility management companies, one of which was blamed for filthy conditions at some schools, in an effort to regain control over the cleaning and maintenance of its buildings. Contracts with Aramark and Sodexo will be renewed for one more year so officials can come up with an alternative.
  5. Joe Biden suggested today that African Americans who back President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” Trump and his allies were eager to seize on Biden’s comments.
  6. Health officials announced another 110 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Illinois today, along with 2,758 newly confirmed cases of the disease across the state. That raises Illinois’ death toll to 4,715 and the case tally to 105,444.
  7. Evanston entrepreneur and civic booster Hecky Powell, who started a mini-empire with his acclaimed rib restaurant where many teenagers landed their first jobs, died today after being exposed to the coronavirus. Read Maureen O’Donnell’s obituary of the BBQ icon.
  8. If you’re like us, you’re in constant need of new ideas for things to do around the house, so we’re rounding up some options on our Things To Do At Home page. Get started with great movies that just hit Netflix, recipe ideas and a guide to creating a garden using whatever outdoor space you have.
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A bright one

House, blues, gospel music set for virtual ‘Millennium Park at Home’ series

For those of us who were bummed about missing some of Chicago’s best summer festivals this year, here’s some good news: The music from Chicago blues, gospel and house music festivals will live on in a new virtual performance series.

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is launching “Millennium Park at Home,“ which will bring the music of the three canceled festivals directly to fans though YouTube performances by artists including Toronzo Cannon, DJ Jes, The Tommies Reunion Choir, Melody Angel and more.


Toronzo Cannon will be among the lineup for an online Chicago blues YouTube concert on June 7. | Provided

The series kicks off tonight with DJ house mix sets. On May 29-30 it’s all about gospel music, and on June 5-7 the series will spotlight blues music.

Here’s the full lineup for the new series.

From the press box

Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan, one of the winningest coaches in NBA history, died Friday at age 78. Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf called Sloan, who joined the team in the 1966 NBA expansion draft, “The Original Bull.”

Meanwhile, on the gridiron, the Bears’ quarterback situation doesn’t compare well with the rest of the NFL, writes Patrick Finley.

The virus continues to take its toll on sports: The season stoppage has forced some teams, including the Blackhawks and Cubs to reduce salaries and furlough employees. Meanwhile, the White Sox committed to keeping its workforce through June.

One thing is clear: whenever live sports do resume and return to TV, leagues and networks will still have issues to overcome.

Your daily question ☕

Cheers, we made it to the weekend! What’s your favorite cocktail to make at home? Send us your photos!

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

Yesterday, we asked you to tell us about some good news you’ve gotten lately. Here’s what some of you said…

“My nephew just took over command of the 311th Fighter Squadron in the Air Force. It was an amazing ceremony to watch!” — Chris Mccormick-Weller

“I’ve got 2 kids expecting babies. My youngest son’s wife and my daughter, I am so excited.” — April Dall

“They’re putting up a Portillo’s by me.” — David Crumbaugh

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