Afternoon Edition: Jan. 25, 2021

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

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Diners eat at Valois Cafeteria in the Hyde Park neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Jan. 23, 2021. Suburban Cook County and Chicago moved back to Tier 1, which allows restaurants and bars to serve limited diners indoors.

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.

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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.

This afternoon will see a high near 34 degrees and the biggest winter storm of the season yet, with up to eight inches of snow possible in the Chicago area. The heaviest snowfall is expected from 6 p.m. to midnight. Tonight’s low will be near 30 degrees. Tomorrow, the snow continues through the early afternoon; the high will be around 32 degrees.

Top story

30 counties in NW, North-Central Illinois cleared for indoor service

Restaurants, bars and other businesses in nearly 30 counties in northwest and west-central Illinois got some good news today.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced it is moving Region 1 and Region 2 to Phase 4, allowing many businesses – as well as museums – to reopen, effective immediately.

This means restaurants and bars in those regions can allow indoor dining and drinking for parties up to 10 people, but tables should be spread out, keeping at least six feet between parties. Select indoor recreation facilities, such as bowling alleys and skating rinks, also can reopen.

Phase 4 also allows meetings and social events to take place again, with a maximum of 50 people or 50% of room capacity. Multiple groups can also gather in the same facility if they are socially distanced and in separate rooms.

Moving from Tier 1 to Phase 4 means a region’s test positivity rate is equal to or less than 6.5% and ICU bed availability is greater than or equal to 20% for three consecutive days. It also means a region hasn’t experience and increase of COVID patients in hospitals.

Read Manny Ramos’ story and check out the full list of counties cleared for indoor service here.

More news you need

  1. The first large-scale vaccination center in the Cook County suburbs is scheduled to open tomorrow, an appointment-only site in Tinley Park that officials say will eventually be able to administer 18,000 shots a week. Officials unveiled the site today as the state moves into a new phase of the state’s vaccination program.
  2. On the day thousands of Chicago Public Schools teachers were originally required to return to classrooms, the Chicago Teachers Union held a news conference to detail educators’ experiences with the coronavirus. The union wants in-person classes delayed until teachers and staff can be vaccinated.
  3. White Chicagoans are getting vaccinated for COVID-19 at far higher rates than Black and Latino residents. Of the more than 100,000 vaccinations so far, Black Chicagoans account for only 15% while more than half of the city’s residents who got shots are white, officials said.
  4. A person is in custody in connection to a homicide in which a man was shot 11 times at close range in Little Village last weekend. Security video footage of the shooting was leaked to several media outlets last night and remained on YouTube as of this morning.
  5. Ald. Anthony Beale issued a point-by-point rebuttal today to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s rejection of his proposal for a community policing substation in Roseland. Beale’s letter counters all of the mayor’s arguments on the eve of a showdown vote by the Committee on Public Safety he believes he can win.
  6. Make sure not to let your car get towed once the snow starts coming down this afternoon. Learn more about the city’s snow-related parking ban, which can be activated for hundreds of miles of streets when there’s at least two inches of snow on the ground.
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A bright one

West Side single mother gifted car after hers was stolen last year

When Iashiskala Sims got out of an Uber at Sweet Holy Spirit Church of Chicago in South Chicago Sunday morning, she thought she was one of four finalists being interviewed to receive a free car.

There were no other finalists.

Sims, 40, drove away with three of her children in a gray Saturn Ion, a gift from Early Walker, a Chicago philanthropist and owner of W&W Towing. Walker surprised the mother of four with the car outside the South Side church yesterday, after he was touched by a letter Sims wrote to him.

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Iashiskala Sims received a free Saturn Ion Sunday from Early Walker, a Chicago philanthropist and owner of W&W Towing.

Clare Proctor/Sun-Times

Sims’ previous car had been stolen from outside her apartment in Humboldt Park a year ago, and the stress of not having a car contributed to a miscarriage Sims suffered around the same time, she wrote in the letter.

“I was behind on my lights and gas, living from paycheck to paycheck,” Sims said Sunday. “It’s been really tight.”

Sims said she applied to Walker’s car giveaway contest at the last minute and was thankful to have been included. Having a car will transform how her family operates, she said.

“They’re happy,” Sims said, looking at her three children piled into her new car. “We’re happy.”

Read Clare Proctor’s full story here.

From the press box

Inside the NHL playoff bubble last year, Kevin Lankinen got an up close look at how veteran goalies like Corey Crawford and Marc-Andre Fleury conducted themselves on the ice. Now, he’s converting those lessons from theory to practice in his quest to stake a claim as the Blackhawks’ starting goalie, Ben Pope writes.

The Bears missed out on a prime target for their coaching staff today when Duce Staley left the Eagles to join the Lions as their associate head coach and running backs coach.

And Fire president Nelson Rodriguez resigned from his position this morning after several years on the job. Rodriguez originally got the gig under previous ownership.

Your daily question☕

What are you doing to prepare for the biggest snowstorm of the season yet?

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: Will you be venturing back inside restaurants and bars as indoor service resumes in Chicago this weekend? Here’s what some of you said...

“Nope. Haven’t since last March and it’s hardly a hardship to continue ordering takeout until vaccine distribution is further along.” — Cassie Wancata Wagner

Assuming our favorite establishments are following the guidelines, yes. We believe it’s critically important to support these businesses and their teams.” — Chris Finkley

I’ll wait until the majority of people are vaccinated, no matter how long it takes. I do understand that so many owners and employees in the restaurant business are hurting, so I’ll continue to order carryout from them until I feel comfortable eating indoors.” — Jean Dorsey Johnson

I haven’t gone this long just to let my guard down now.” — Angela Ballard

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