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Afternoon Edition: Sept. 16, 2020

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

In all, CPS officials said they now know of 258 staffers, service vendors or charter school employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 between March and Sept. 9.
Pat Nabong/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 83 degrees and some isolated showers. Tonight’s low will be around 60 degrees. Tomorrow will be another sunny day, though the temperature will really cool down; a high of 67 degrees in the forecast.

Top story

8 CPS workers dead, another 250 COVID-positive since start of pandemic

Eight Chicago Public Schools workers have died of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and another 250 have tested positive, with about half of those cases leading to a pause in operations at their schools.

The latest figures released by the school system this week are about triple the total number of cases reported at the beginning of May, a month and a half after schools shut down, when two workers had died among 85 total confirmed cases.

In all, CPS officials said they now know of 258 staffers, service vendors or charter school employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 between March and Sept. 9. Those include workers who are at home as well as ones who are reporting to work in person.

Of those cases, 123 have been deemed “actionable,” meaning operations at the school were paused because the infected person had been in or around the building.

Another 33 cases are believed to have been part of a cluster in which more than one possibly related cases were found at a school within a two-week period, CPS said, with 21 of those cases coming in the spring.

CPS did not identify which of its workers died from the disease, which schools or buildings they worked at, or when the deaths took place. Nor did the district say in its release which school communities have had other positive cases.

However, the district in some cases has sent notices to parents and staff at individual schools after an infection was found. Just this week, a letter was sent to Lincoln Park High School families informing them of a COVID-positive staffer who was working in the building. All athletics events and other programs scheduled to take place at the school were postponed, and “no staff, students or other members of our school community will be allowed to enter the building under any circumstances until further notice,” the letter read. The school is undergoing a deep clean.

CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said the district’s contact tracing program in conjunction with city health officials has found the “vast majority” of CPS workers have been exposed either due to community or household spread. That has led CPS to believe that “workplace transmission is unlikely to have occurred” in most cases.

“The district, in collaboration with public health officials, has been able to effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within school buildings when a case has been identified,” Bolton said.

Read Nader Issa’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Longtime Illinois lawmaker Terry Link pleaded guilty to filing a false income tax return for 2016 during a virtual court hearing this morning, capping a lengthy legislative career with an unexpected fall from grace. Link was a key player in the casino debate and had been the head of the Lake County Democratic Party since 1992 before resigning last month.
  2. FOP President John Catanzara said he stormed away from today’s long-awaited contract negotiation session after Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s team offered his members the same 10% pay raise over four years already awarded to Chicago firefighters in exchange for higher health care contributions. The mayor also tacked on 17 pages, including 40 disciplinary reforms.
  3. A new national survey, released days before Rosh Hashanah begins Friday, shows a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust among young adults in Illinois. When asked, if “the Holocaust is a myth and did not happen,” 15% said they were not sure.
  4. The family of Olga Maria Calderon, who was working at a Walgreens store in Wicker Park when she was stabbed to death, is calling on the drugstore chain to explain why it hired and then removed a security guard from the store earlier this year. “The family deserves answers to their questions,” said an attorney for the family.

A bright one

Goodman Theatre brings live theater to the parks, with timely tale of Fannie Lou Hamer

Talk to longtime leading lady E. Faye Butler about playing civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer on the stage and the line between artist and character sometimes seems to mist. Like the late Hamer, Butler has some forthright feedback for people who don’t vote.

“If you choose not to vote, you choose not to have a voice, and in that case, I don’t want to hear your voice. You gave up your right to be in the conversation,” the multi-award-winning actor said.

E. Faye Butler rehearses the title role from “Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It!,” accompanied by music director Felton Offard at the Goodman Theatre.

Butler continued with a like-minded bit of dialogue from Cheryl West’s “Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It!,” a Goodman Theatre/Chicago Park District production opening Sept. 17 at Englewood’s Hamilton Park and continuing through Oct. 3 with free performances at parks throughout the city. It marks Goodman’s return to live theater, albeit, in a different forum.

“Let me tell you how [Fannie Lous] says it: ‘If you don’t get busy and vote and be part of the solution, then get the hell outta my way, ‘cause you part of the problem,” Butler said.

“I didn’t think this a year ago when we started working on this, but what Fannie is doing is coming back to us,” Butler continued, script down. “She’s reminding us that it is our duty to get out there and vote.”

Read the full story to find out when “Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It!” will be performed at a park near you.

From the press box

A day after word leaked that Allen Robinson brought up the possibility of a trade as part of contract talks, the Bears receiver told reporters this morning that “we’re in the clear with that” after a recent meeting with coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace.

And did Bulls guard Coby White accidentally share some insider info about the team’s coaching search? On a Zoom call to discuss his All-Rookie team selection, White brought up that the Bulls could be narrowing their list of candidates down Friday.

Your daily question ☕

What are you most looking forward to this fall?

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’s the best movie you’ve seen this summer? Here’s what some of you said…

“Adrift was pretty good!” — Erika Hoffman

“Star Trek - Wrath of Khan.” — Ingrid Breslin