Afternoon Edition: Aug. 19, 2020

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

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Dr. Sachin Shah poses for a portrait outside of the University of Chicago Hospital in Hyde Park.

Anthony Vazquez/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.

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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.

It’s a beautiful afternoon, with sunny skies and a high near 82 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 62 degrees. Tomorrow will be a bit warmer: sunny with a high near 87 degrees.

Top story

Video visits, drive-up services, mobile apps: The new normal of seeing a doctor

One of the many things the pandemic has changed is the way people see their doctors. Almost overnight, patients began switching to telehealth visits, a trend that’s expected to last.

Proponents say telehealth creates opportunities for doctors and patients to stay in contact more frequently. Federal health officials cite telehealth as a tool that can help prevent heart attacks, strokes and other conditions.

For Ramona Gonzalez, the switch has been a blessing. 

As a baby, her 14-year-old son Alessandro’s brain was deprived of oxygen, and as a result, he needs a ventilator to breathe, a feeding tube to eat, he’s deaf and blind. In recent years, Gonzalez has had to bring her son from Matteson to La Rabida Children’s Hospital on the South Side, which specializes in caring for medically complex chronically ill children. Sometimes, she has to load him in an ambulance along with his medical supplies and equipment.

“It’s a lot,” she said. But over the past few months, Alessandro was able to see six doctors from La Rabida in three exams conducted over video. It was a godsend for Gonzalez during a pandemic she feared would endanger her son’s life.

Still, doctors stress that video and phone exams have their limitations, and patients are often asked to come in for personal visits to avoid potential mistakes. Medical errors already lead to tens of thousands of U.S. deaths a year, research shows. Many visits to specialists, such as gynecologists or ophthalmologists, can only be done in person. Advocates for children with a broad array of special health needs point to limitations as some intense therapies cannot be done virtually. And immunizations and early care require in-office exams.

“It works for some. It doesn’t work for others,” said Faye Manaster, a project director in Mokena with The Arc of Illinois Family to Family Health Information Center.

Dr. Sachin Shah, a primary care doctor and associate professor at University of Chicago, has been able to make it work for his patients, who he sees over video or by phone. Patients are prepped much like they would be for a visit to the office, though they are reporting their own weight, blood pressure or pulse. Shah might tell a patient on a video screen to “push on your belly” and “show me where you have discomfort.”

“Medical providers have been ready to do this for some time,” Shah said, referring to virtual visits.

For patients who do go to the doctor, they’re asked to come alone to avoid crowding the waiting room. If a person is more than 10 minutes early, they may need to wait in the car or outside. Visitors are encouraged to use a mobile app to make appointments and check in, a sort of OpenTable for health care, Shah said.

And now, University of Chicago and other hospitals are experimenting with curbside services, including blood draws for lab work and potentially vaccinations. Drive-up shots may be key to handling flu season while doctors and hospitals brace for another wave of coronavirus cases.

Read Brett Chase’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her schools chief, Janice Jackson, announced reforms today to the controversial program that stations police officers in schools. They include beefing up protections for undocumented students and giving officers additional training in cultural sensitivity and implicit bias.
  2. Illinois’ growing coronavirus caseload climbed still higher today as health officials announced that an additional 2,295 Illinoisans have contracted COVID-19, the latest nearly three-month high for the state. Officials also announced that the virus has killed 25 more residents, including two young people.
  3. A man who alleges detectives working under former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge tortured him into falsely confessing to murder was released from custody last week after prosecutors dropped charges against him. Keith Walker, 52, spent 29 years behind bars.
  4. A misdemeanor gun charge against a South Side state representative has been dropped because prosecutors did not have enough evidence to continue with the case. Curtis Tarver II was charged last fall with failing to surrender a concealed carry license when officers found him with a gun during a Woodlawn traffic stop.
  5. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is shooting down an attempt by four aldermen to declare a state of emergency in Chicago that would pave the way for a four-month stint by the Illinois National Guard to assist exhausted cops. The mayor noted that two of the four aldermen who called for Friday’s special City Council meeting are her most outspoken City Council critics.
  6. Northwestern University has announced its three-step COVID-19 testing plan for undergraduate students returning to campus in the fall. An at-home nasal swab test and negative result, plus ongoing testing of both on- and off-campus students, will be required to regain campus access.
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A bright one

After 20 years of selling at bars, the Tamale Guy opens a restaurant

It’s now easy to find the Tamale Guy: After two decades of selling in bars, the beloved vendor has opened a restaurant in Ukranian Village. 

Tamales have been a family operation for Claudio Velez and his sister, Madga, who would make the steaming meat-filled masa pockets that Velez would deliver to customers at bars across the city. Those patrons were always grateful to see the Tamale Guy, who would appear almost at random with salvation from having imbibed too many drinks. 


Claudio Velez and an employee prepare tamales at Tamale Guy Chicago in Ukranian Village on Tuesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

One of Velez’s sons, Osmar Abad Cruz, said his father had “dreamed of opening a restaurant for as long as I can remember.” After the pandemic forced bars to close, squashing his income, the Tamale Guy was due for a win. Now, his dream is a reality.

Traditional tamales, including pork, chicken and queso con rajas, are on the menu at Tamale Guy Chicago, 2018 W. Chicago Ave., which only offers carryout. Eventually, the menu will feature specials, like shrimp tamales or tacos. Velez is also selling t-shirts that feature the Tamale Guy’s signature red cooler.

Read the full story from Chicago Eater’s Ashok Selvam.

From the press box

Rookie tight ends usually need time to make the difficult transition from college to the NFL, but the Bears seem confident second-round pick Cole Kmet will be one of the few who can step in and make an immediate impact. 

And while the Blackhawks’ playoff defeat to the Golden Knights showed how far they have to go, this season gave signs the team has pieces worth building around, reporter Ben Pope writes.

Your daily question ☕

With the presidential election at the front of our minds this week, we want to know: How do you plan on voting in November?

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 activities are you less likely to go back to post-pandemic? Here’s what some of you said…

“As an old guy who still takes college courses, I don’t think I’ll go back to the class room. Online school is the way to go from here on in. In fact, I may not go back to the office for work either. Working from home is too convenient; I’m saving time and money.” — Joseph A. Simonson

“The gym, I have always thought they were a germ breeding ground!” — Meg Bodgen

“Being in large crowds where I don’t know who I am standing next to will be a definite no for me. But activism remains important to me. If and when I join a protest march, I will be sure to go with people I know, wear masks, and do my best to maintain space.” — Carmie Daugird Callobre

“Full bars. I’m done with them. Find yourself a nice hole in the wall.” — Scott Paul

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

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