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Afternoon Edition: May 7, 2020

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

Janet Williams, of Roscoe Village, shows the $1,200 federal stimulus check made out to her late stepfather, Arthur Keyser, right, who died in November 2018.
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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.

This afternoon will be perfect for a little bit of time outdoors: Sunny, with a high near 67 degrees. Tonight’s low will drop to around 39 degrees. Tomorrow will be much cooler: Partly sunny with a high near 44 degrees, ahead of a slight weekend warmup.

Top story

No forwarding address for some federal stimulus check recipients

Not many people may be familiar with the abbreviation “DECD,” though most could guess, especially when it appears after a name, that it means “deceased.” As in dead.

So you can imagine Janet Williams’ surprise last week when she received a $1,200 federal stimulus check in the mail made out to her late stepfather, “Arthur Keyser DECD.” Keyser died in November 2018, which the government apparently knew, Williams notes, because it says so right on the face of the $1,200 check they sent him.

It’s already been widely reported that the Treasury Department mistakenly sent out thousands of stimulus payments to dead people in its rush to get money out the door and revive the economy. The explanation is there wasn’t time to cross reference the list of check recipients with the Social Security Administration’s death index.

Keyser was hardly the only “DECD” person to get such a check with that fairly obvious clue printed right on the face. There have been similar anecdotal reports from other news outlets around the country.

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

The question is what to do with such a check once it has been received.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal that dead people aren’t eligible to collect the $1,200 and that their relatives and estates should repay the money to the government. Presumably, if they didn’t receive the money by direct deposit, they should just send back the check. But others are questioning Mnuchin’s authority to make that determination, arguing the law passed by Congress makes no provision for the federal government to claw back stimulus funds sent in error.

The IRS issued detailed instructions yesterday on how to return stimulus checks by mail or pay them back if they’ve already been deposited.

Williams, who lives in Roscoe Village and works for a medical trade association, said she does not plan to return the check, but neither does she intend to cash it.

“It’s more trouble for me than it’s worth to send it back,” she said, noting there’s no harm to the U.S. Treasury as long as the check isn’t cashed. Plus, she said, “It’s a nice souvenir.”

Read the full story from Mark Brown.

More news you need

  1. Melinda Anderson wanted to go home and take care of her children Sunday night, but was persuaded to go out to a West Side gathering where she was shot and killed, allegedly by an ex-boyfriend, her family says. Hours later, a hospital called Anderson’s twin sister with the awful news.
  2. Hundreds of city workers have seen their regular jobs put on hold as the pandemic grips the city, but they haven’t stopped working. Instead, they’re filling other necessary roles to aid the city’s COVID-19 response, like retuning 311 calls and delivering food.
  3. Another 138 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, with total fatalities in the state now standing at 3,112. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration warned today that the state is in a death plateau that could last “awhile.”
  4. There are some people that once exposed to the bright light of their spirit, you never forget them, writes Maudlyne Ihejirika in her latest column. Greg Zanis, “The Cross Man,” who died of bladder cancer Monday, was one of those people.
  5. A group of parishioners from the Archdiocese of Chicago have launched a a prayer hotline for Chicago-area Catholics. The service also offers voicemail, e-mail, and multilingual options, including Spanish and Polish.
  6. Clorox says stores will not be fully stocked with its popular wipes and other disinfectant cleaners used to combat COVID-19 until this summer. “It’s going to be touch and go until then, unfortunately,“ the chairman and CEO said.

A bright one

Homeless students’ families thankful after strangers gift computers: ‘It’s a laptop, and it’s ours’

When Margaret Bingham and her daughter Mariah shared their experience as a homeless Chicago Public Schools family during the coronavirus pandemic, they never imagined how many strangers would offer to lend a hand.

They’ve received gift cards for groceries, school supplies, a new laptop for Mariah to do her homework and even an offer from a bus driver to give them rides whenever they can’t pay for one.

Margaret Bingham and her daughter Mariah Bingham are often homeless or living with friends and family. Mariah is enrolled at a CPS School.
James Foster/For the Sun-Times

But the part that has made Margaret happiest is seeing their life story cause an outpouring of contributions to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to support other families in similar circumstances.

“It feels great because it helps a lot of parents who are doubled up with other families and have problems with their children,” Margaret, 56, said. “It’s been really good, I appreciate it.”

Read the full story from Nader Issa.

From the press box

Bears fans will want to keep an eye out tonight for the team’s 2020 regular season schedule, which will be released in a few hours. For now, we already know the opponents.

Single-game tickets will also go on sale tonight, and the team says it will offer refunds if games are canceled or fans cannot be in attendance.

Your daily question ☕

How many times a week are you getting out in public, and to do what?

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 you’ve had to postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what some of you said…

“My daughter’s first trip to Disneyland. Being a prisoner in your home is awful.” — Kim Catherine

“Law school graduation and the Bar.” — Jer’Ron Dinwiddie

“The Cubs-Cardinals game in London in June.” — Melissa McCormack Sisco

“We were to renew our vows in June in Florida for our 25th anniversary, my sister’s 20th anniversary and my parent’s 50th anniversary, all happening in 2020.” — Tricia Roegner Despres

Read more of the plans Chicagoans had to put on hold because of the coronavirus.

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