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Afternoon Edition: Feb. 16, 2021

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

Katrina Haynes from Clinton Elementary receives the Moderna vaccine at a CPS vaccination site at Roberto Clemente High School.
Anthony Vazquez/Chicago 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 partly sunny with a high around 17 degrees. Tonight’s low will be near -1 with wind chill values as low as -8 degrees. More snow is in the forecast for tomorrow; the high will be around 20 degrees.

Top story

COVID-19 vaccination, testing efforts hampered by huge snowfall

The severe winter weather wreaking havoc on sidewalks and roadways across Illinois will disrupt COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts statewide for the rest of the week, officials said today.

Shots and swabs were put on hold at city-run sites after more than a foot of snow blanketed parts of Chicago, and the brutal conditions gripping the entire Midwest will also delay vaccine shipments coming from the federal government “over the upcoming days,” according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

That goes for city-run vaccination sites as well as other private providers, so officials say anyone with a coveted appointment scheduled for this week should confirm or reschedule.

Vaccine shipments are requested on an overnight basis, so the supply is expected to “catch up quickly.” City officials say they’ll decide on operations “on a day-to-day basis.”

“While there is currently no estimated time of arrival on the orders, we anticipate daily updates from CDC,” the city’s Public Health Department said in a statement.

Statewide, only 40,354 shots went into arms yesterday as the sloppy weather pummeled the area. That was just a few hundred more than the number of doses administered Sunday; both marked the state’s least-productive vaccination days in a week.

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Some parts of Chicago got hit much worse than others in the latest major snowstorm to bury the area. By this morning, nearly 18 inches had fallen at Midway Airport, while miles away at O’Hare Airport snowfall totaled less than 8 inches.
  2. The storm hampered the commutes of countless residents throughout the day. State police responded to at least six crashes on local expressways after 4 a.m. and multiple CTA train lines were hit with disruptions.
  3. Chicago restaurants and bars fighting for survival got the go-ahead today to increase their indoor capacity to 40% or 50 people, whichever is less. The move comes as the city’s COVID-19 metrics continue trending in the right direction.
  4. A wistful Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford II presided over his final graduation ceremony today. Ford will be required to step down in April after he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 63.
  5. A pair of high-profile sitcoms headlined by some familiar names one starring “SNL” longtimer Kenan Thompson, the other a vehicle for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson premiere tonight on NBC. Read Richard Roeper’s reviews of the pilots for “Kenan” and “Young Rock” here.

A bright one

Snow doesn’t keep Chicagoans from their paczki

Like a knife through cake, the snowblower had cut a crisp channel through the 2-foot-high snowbank in front of Dobra Bielinkski’s bakery door.

Had there been a wall of ice blocking the way, Bielinski’s customers likely would have found a way in.

“I’ve done it every year for the last 15 years. So I was like, I’m not breaking tradition. I got up early, I shoveled and I came out,” said Dan Hoban of Portage Park. “My grandma used to make them, but this is the best I’ve had since she passed away.”

Dobra Bielinski, owner of Delightful Pastries, looks for a customer’s paczki order Tuesday morning.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Customers flock to Delightful Pastries at the corner of Austin and Lawrence avenues every Fat Tuesday in search of her paczki, pouches of fried dough filled with reservoirs of rose petal jelly, custard — even Kentucky moonshine and lemon curd.

They came this morning, albeit a bit more slowly. Knee-deep snow and impassable alleyways do that. By 7:30 a.m., 30 or so customers had trickled in. It’s usually four or five times that, Bielinski said.

“Usually, this place is packed. You couldn’t move,” she said.

Bielinski was ready regardless. She got to her bakery at 4 a.m. She estimates she and her staff will make about 30,000 paczki between “Polish Fat Thursday and American Fat Tuesday,” she said.

Read Stefano Esposito’s full story here.

From the press box

The Bulls-Hornets game set for tomorrow night has been postponed by the NBA due to health and safety protocols after a Spurs player tested positive for COVID-19. The Hornets played the Spurs two days ago.

The postponement, while not necessarily ideal, will be welcomed by the Bulls, who otherwise would’ve traveled to Charlotte after their win in Indiana last night. Instead, the team returned to Chicago this afternoon for some much-needed rest before facing the 76ers on Friday, Joe Cowley reports.

And J.J. Watt spent Valentine’s Day in Chicago with his wife Kealia, who plays soccer for the Red Stars, but don’t count on the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year to join the Bears.

Your daily question ☕

Where’s your favorite place to get paczki in Chicago? Tell us why.

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

Yesterday, we asked you: How did you spend your snowy long weekend? Here’s what some of you said...

“Working on my jigsaw puzzle, watching TV and eating Chinese food.” — Joyce Heiser

Wishing that I had a dog and cat to play with.” — Elliott Avant

“Went out to eat, drove around, spent time outdoors with the dogs. It was great!” — Erika Hoffmann

Hibernating.” — Joe Roguska

Thanking God that I don’t live in Chicago anymore.” — Peggy Taylor

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