Afternoon Edition: Dec. 2, 2021

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

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A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine in June in Chinatown. Illinois recorded its highest coronavirus caseload in a year today.

Ashlee Rezin/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.

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Top story

More than 11,000 new COVID-19 cases in Illinois, most in a year — with omicron still looming

Illinois has yet to detect its first confirmed case of COVID-19’s omicron variant, but the delta strain is still inflicting serious damage statewide.

Public health officials today announced a staggering 11,524 newly diagnosed coronavirus cases, the most logged in Illinois in a full year — a figure not seen since the state’s worst surge of the pandemic last fall before any life-saving vaccines were available.

That’s nearly double any other daily case count reported by the state in the past 10 months. Illinois has averaged more than 5,300 new cases per day over the past week, a rate that has jumped by 136% over the past month — and that has multiplied by a factor of 16 compared to early July.

The latest troubling caseload is the state’s 13th highest of any day throughout the pandemic. The state reported more than 15,000 cases on Nov. 13, 2020, what was then a national record.

Today’s cases were diagnosed among a record-high 231,876 tests processed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, but numbers have been rising steadily across the board since late October.

Mitchell Armentrout and Jason Beeferman have more on the latest spike here.

More news you need

  1. The fourth day of the trial of Jussie Smollett opened with defense lawyers hurling bombshells at the state’s star witness, claiming Abimbola Osundairo, who Smollett allegedly recruited for the 2019 attack, asked for $2 million in exchange for him admitting the actor didn’t plan the hoax. Our Andy Grimm has the latest from the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
  2. Fifteen City Council members have petitioned the city clerk’s office for a referendum on the new ward map filed by the Latino Caucus that includes 15 majority-Latino wards. If there is no agreement 40 days before the June 28 Democratic primary, Chicago voters will make the decision for City Council.
  3. Officials say a man was shot and killed by Buffalo Grove police early this morning after he called 911, fired off two guns and then refused to drop them when officers arrived. This was believed to be the first police shooting on record in Buffalo Grove.
  4. Chicago police have released video showing a gunman killing a man during an attempted robbery in Lincoln Square earlier this week. It was the third shooting in that neighborhood in four days.
  5. Gov. Pritzker today announced $300 million in grants to child care providers across the state. Applications for the latest round of funding are due by early January with the state expecting to disburse the money beginning in February.

A bright one

Chicago serves as backdrop for new holiday movie ‘Christmas Again’

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — forever.

In Disney’s “Christmas Again,” every day is Dec. 25, and the stars of the movie (premiering Dec. 3 on Disney Channel and Disney+) are left to gallivant around Chicago in a fresh, candy-striped version of “Groundhog Day.”

Starring Scarlett Estevez of TV’s “Lucifer” and “Bunk’d” as Ro, an 11-year-old stuck in a Santa-induced time loop, the film centers on her parents’ divorce and the changes to her family in Ravenswood.

For Ro, that means juggling a new kind of Christmas, with an attention-hogging future stepsibling, Dad’s girlfriend mistakenly finishing the Christmas candy, and a flatulent abuela who toots in her face.

With each Christmas Day starting with a triumphant “Good Morning Chicago!” from her alarm clock, Ro she decides to discover what Chicago has to offer. Guided by a snippy Santa who drives an eight-wheeled stretch Hummer limo, she travels from Navy Pier to the Museum of Science and Industry to Millennium Park and more.


In “Christmas Again,” Scarlett Estevez plays a Ravenswood kid stuck in a holiday time loop.


For Estevez and Alexis Carra, who plays Ro’s warmhearted mother, filming in the city was a memorable experience.

“I always say that if Chicago had California weather, everyone would live there,” Carra said.

Much of the cast stayed in the River North neighborhood in late fall of 2020, and spent time walking around downtown and admiring the Christmas lights, she said.

“Chicago, it’s got that magic of the big town, especially downtown. It’s just such a beautiful city,” Carra said. “Being able to shoot in a Chicago neighborhood in an actual Chicago family home, It just felt really magical, all of it.”

For food, Estevez’s spot was the Nutella Cafe on Michigan Avenue, where she and co-star Ashlyn Jade-Lopez wolfed down croissants and hot chocolate. Carra said she dined on all Chicago has to offer, including Giordano’s deep dish, Portillo’s hot dogs and the “insane” carrot cake at Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse.

Jason Beeferman has more on the making of the movie here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

Who does the holidays better — New York City or Chicago?

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: Have you decided to get a COVID-19 booster shot yet? Why or why not?

Here’s what some of you said…

“I absolutely got the booster. It makes it safer for everyone.” — Dawn Stockmo

“Hell no.” — Karl Bensman

“Booster? You bet! Got it over a month ago. COVID is a really ugly way to die. Not going to take that path if there’s an alternative. The unvaccinated who fall back on the ‘vaccine hasn’t been sufficiently tested scientifically’ excuse fail to realize that THEY are now part of the control group in the experiment.” — Glen Prezembel

“I decided and I got the booster. I’m looking for the next one. Why? Because I want to live and I want you to live — period!” — Cheryl Bitoy

“Yes! Because anything that helps to bring the pandemic to an early end and save lives is worth it!” — Jonathan B. Rivera

“None of your business.” — Jeff Bregel

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

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