Afternoon Edition: Jan. 7, 2021

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

SHARE Afternoon Edition: Jan. 7, 2021

Rush University Medical Center staff collect nasopharyngeal swab samples to test people for the coronavirus at the hospital’s drive-thru testing site.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/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.

Afternoon Edition signup

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 be mostly cloudy, with a chance of flurries, and a high near 36 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 30 degrees. Tomorrow will be the same: cloudy with a high near 35 degrees.

Top story

Illinois coronavirus cases top 1 million

Illinois’ coronavirus case tally eclipsed 1 million today as state public health officials announced 8,757 more people have contracted COVID-19.

A total of 1,008,045 infections have been diagnosed across the state since early March. That’s an average of about 3,316 new cases per day — or about one person infected every 26 seconds.

It also means roughly one in every 13 Illinois residents has carried COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic — almost 8% of the state population of 12.7 million. Experts agree thousands of additional cases likely have gone undetected over the past 10 months.

More than 21 million cases have been diagnosed nationwide. Illinois has seen the fifth most of any state, trailing California, Texas, Florida and New York.

“As this disease continues to wreak havoc on our nation — with the United States setting another record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a day just yesterday — it is critical that we take extra caution today and in the months ahead to reduce the spread, bring down hospitalization rates, and save lives,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “Now that vaccine distribution has begun, we can see the light at the end of this difficult time — let’s do everything we can to ensure all of our neighbors are able to be there as we cross that finish line, healthy as well.”

More than half of all the Illinois cases — 542,505 — were detected over the past two months alone as the state weathered a record-breaking resurgence that peaked in mid-November.

Illinois’ key metrics generally have trended in the right direction since then, aside from a weeklong uptick in positivity rates after Christmas. The latest cases were detected among 105,518 tests, raising the statewide seven-day average positivity rate by a tenth of a percentage point to 8.5%.

Nightly COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined from a late November peak near 6,200 down to 3,921 as of last night. Of those, 783 were receiving intensive care and 450 were on ventilators.

Pritzker said he’s “cautiously optimistic” some regions of the state “have made real progress and won’t reverse that progress.”

“My prayer for the new year is that everyone stays healthy and all of our regions continue to move in the right direction,” Pritzker said. “I ask all Illinoisans to join me in making that possible by wearing a mask and keeping your distance.”

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full report here.

More news you need

  1. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., thought she might die yesterday: “Is this how it’s going to be?” she wondered, crouched down and trapped in the House gallery as officers drew their guns, ready to fend off rioters breaking into the chamber. Lynn Sweet talked to Kelly and two other lawmakers who were there.
  2. A day after those deadly riots in the Capitol encouraged by President Donald Trump, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., became the first Republican in Congress to call for invoking the 25th Amendment to force Trump out of office “The President is unfit. And the President is unwell,” Kinzinger said.
  3. A 6-year-old boy died in a fire after being left home alone with his siblings last night in Altgeld Gardens. The boy’s four siblings — ages 1, 4, 5, and 13 — were uninjured, according to police.
  4. Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., was asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., to resign after saying that “Hitler was right on one thing,” referring to influencing youths, at a pro-Trump rally. Miller is being condemned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among others.
  5. For the first time since an allegation of sexual abuse against the Rev. Michael Pfleger came to light earlier this week, his church leadership has issued a statement, saying they “fully expect exoneration.” “We boldly stand behind our senior pastor,” St. Sabina Church associate minister Kimberly Lymore said this morning. “We do not believe the accusation.”
Subscription Offer
Support civic-minded, independent journalism by signing up for a Chicago Sun-Times digital subscription.

A bright one

‘Chicago P.D.’ star LaRoyce Hawkins, local creatives bring mural — and hope — to Harvey

South suburban Harvey — like Chicago — is known for a lot of things, some of them not so savory. Rampant corruption. Disinvestment — intentional or unintentional. And a recent viral video involving Harvey police officers.

So how does a community move on, accept the challenges and change the narrative? “Chicago P.D.” cast member and Harvey native LaRoyce Hawkins had an idea for his hometown: creating a mural as an inspiration to kickstart change.

“For us, the most important thing was to find light and balance to this battlefield that we find ourselves on — Harvey, specifically — because my hometown is where my heart is,” said Hawkins. “Every time there’s news or press, it doesn’t necessarily look great.”


Amoz Wright’s “Talk That Talk” is a part of the “Harvey World Wall” mural painted on the side of The Harvey Boxing Club.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Hawkins teamed up with muralist Amoz Wright, who he says provided “positive energy” from the beginning. And Wright told him about a quartet of local artists — Nefertiti Abdulmalik, David Isreal, Dante Lyles and Caleb M. Harris — who could make the mural a reality.

“It was a godsend,” said Wright, also a Harvey native, of working on the mural. “I was able to bring together some of the amazing artists that I know, who are some of my close friends as well, to be a part of this project.”

What followed is “Harvey World Wall,” which sits on the wall of the Harvey Boxing Club on Broadway Avenue. The mural, currently in the process of being painted, is a conglomerate of five works.

Read Evan F. Moore’s full story here.

From the press box

He’s only a few games into his tenure, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan is already instilling greater confidence into his players.

And Cairo Santos, who was 12-for-12 in field goal attempts in December, became the first Bears kicker to win Special Teams Player of the Month since Robbie Gould in 2010.

Your daily question ☕

What do you do to decompress after a difficult news day?

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

After a harrowing day for the U.S., we asked you how you feel about the state of the nation as the dust settles today. Here’s what some of you said…

“Horrified. Angered. Saddened. But I know this will not stand. We will continue to fight for our democracy. And we will prevail.” — Christina Brearley Nagrant

“I feel like you reap what you sow. Anybody with eyeballs saw this coming down the highway.” — Kevin Gibson

“We must focus on what really happened yesterday. Two new Senators from Georgia were duly elected. We can continue to focus on the misguided Trump supporters attempting to divide our country or we can move forward to focus on repairing our country.” — Edward Hadnott

“I think that our republic might be a little bruised and rattled right now, but it’s still here. America is a lot stronger than these trials and tribulations can do lasting meaningful damage to. The American Experiment is still underway.” — Chris Vaughn

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

Sign up here to get the Afternoon Edition in your inbox every day.

The Latest
Harrelson says he feels bad for chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, too
Jonathan Vallejo, 38, of River Grove, suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the Friday shooting and was pronounced dead at Lutheran General Hospital, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey jumped into the national spotlight this season, becoming an All-Star, leading the 76ers to the playoffs and edging out White for the league award.
Funeral services for Huesca will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church at 7740 S. Western Ave. in Chicago, according to the Fraternal Order of Police.
Castaways Beach Club, formerly Castaways Bar & Grill, closed for renovations last summer. A refresh features an updated menu and renovations costing more than $3 million.