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Afternoon Edition: March 12, 2021

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

Pamela Redd sits with a photo of her brother Carl Redd, who died of the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic.
Anthony Vazquez/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 sunny with a high near 51 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 30 degrees. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 53 degrees and Sunday will be cloudy with a high near 45.

Don’t forget: Daylight saving time begins Sunday, which means our clocks will spring forward one hour.

Top story

March 12, 2020: The day the devastating effects of the COVID crisis were first seen in Cook County

If there was a single day when the devastating effects of the novel coronavirus were first seen in Chicago, it was March 12.

On that day, there were just 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported across the state of Illinois, with most in Chicago and Cook County. There had been no confirmed deaths due to the virus.

But, in reality, COVID-19 had been circulating far and wide for weeks, infecting hundreds if not thousands. Now, the worsening symptoms of those infected were showing up in the region’s soon-to-be beleaguered hospitals, a collaboration between the Chicago Sun-Times and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation’s Documenting COVID-19 project found.

The first confirmed death of a COVID-19 patient in Cook County didn’t occur until March 16. But a review of hundreds of pages of investigative records from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, including patient files for those who never were tested for COVID-19, revealed how the virus had already torn through nursing homes, jumped between family members returning home from travel and, in many examples, spread in hospitals to staff and patients seeking care for other reasons.

In one notable case, all 12 attending nurses of the same patient at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn were infected in early March after the patient’s son visited his father and brought the virus with him.

And even though several Chicago area hospitals had created isolated COVID units and had given protective equipment to their staff by March 12, a deadly combination of slow testing, lax hospital isolation and visitation protocols — and a preoccupation with overseas travel to China while ignoring travel to most other countries or even U.S. states — exacerbated an already-dire public health crisis.

Keep reading Kyra Senese’s story here.

More news you need

  1. Three men were shot, two of them fatally, today in north suburban Evanston, police say. The shooting happened about a block from Evanston Township High School.
  2. A lot of Chicagoans want to know, and the city has an answer: There will be zero, zip, zilch — NO — dyeing of the Chicago River to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year. Instead of a big celebration, the city will hold a small parade to be live-streamed online tomorrow.
  3. City investigators cited eight Chicago businesses last weekend for violating coronavirus restrictions, including one Southwest Side child play center that had over 100 people inside. Other citations were handed to bars, restaurants and businesses that failed to enforce social distancing or mask requirements.
  4. Donovan Eckhardt, the former co-host of “Windy City Rehab,” was ordered by a judge this week to pay more than $15,000 to a plumbing supply company that sued for nonpayment. Eckhardt, who’s filed an unrelated lawsuit against the producers of the HGTV show, can seek to vacate the judgment within 30 days.
  5. Complaints about potholes were down 45% for January and February compared to a year ago, but that difference may be largely due to the recent snow and the pandemic keeping people off the road. Regardless, CDOT crews are out in full force this week patching the pavement pockmarks.

A bright one

Shining a ‘dino’ light on a T. rex mystery

About 67 million years ago, a brave — or possibly very stupid — dinosaur sank its teeth into Sue’s head.

That’s one theory about what left the pockmark-like holes — one as a big as a silver dollar — spread across the lower jaw of the Field Museum’s most famous resident.

Jingmai O’Connor, the Field’s new curator of fossil reptiles, isn’t sure she buys it. “These patterns don’t match up with the teeth of other therapods,” O’Connor said.

Others have speculated the holes are the result of an infection.

In hopes of shedding light on a mystery that has baffled scientists for decades, Sue’s 5-foot-long, 600-pound skull was wheeled out of its glass case Wednesday. O’Connor, like a dentist with the most cooperative of patients, probed the indentations with a hand-held digital microscope — the first time the technology has been used on Sue, Field staff said.

Sue’s battered skull is full of holes — where muscles attach or where veins thread through. These holes are different. They aren’t found on every T. rex specimen, although they are common.

“So whatever caused it is something that is not unusual in the everyday life of tyrannosaurus. It’s something that they must have been commonly afflicted with,” O’Connor said.

Keep reading Stefano Esposito’s story here.

From the press box

The retirement of Brent Seabrook has big implications for the Blackhawks in a number of ways. Beat writer Ben Pope looks at what Seabrook’s departure means for the salary cap and the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft.

And Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is no stranger to reality, but he’s confident he can reinvent himself and thrive in a second stint with the Cubs, Russell Dorsey writes.

Your daily question ☕

How do you plan to celebrate a more low-key St. Patrick’s Day this year?

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: Which major Chicago event do you hope you can attend this summer? Here’s what some of you said...

esterday, we asked you: How has the pandemic changed you? Here’s what some of you said...

“When they said they were going to shut down everything I was happy, I thought my family and I would be safe at home. But the virus found its way into our home and destroyed my family. We all got sick and my mother passed away in June. My life will never be the same.” — Vanessa Ramirez

“I’ve finally found the motivation to work out consistently, which I haven’t done since playing sports in college.” — Ruth Anderson

“My circumstances sure changed. Started with a huge pay cut at work and resulted in a layoff. Then, I vowed to make lemonade. I did. Went back to work after only 9 weeks and got a pay raise and much much more, both personally and professionally.” — Karen Renee Webber

“As an introvert, I found wanting to stay in and avoid others and *being forced* to stay in and avoid others are two totally different mindsets.” — Tony De Castro

“Appreciating family and friends so much more.” — Polly Godwin-Rowell

“I never thought I could get used to people in masks. Now it looks wrong of people are maskless.” — Lori Beth

“I lost 12 pounds. I don’t miss going out as much as I thought I would. I planted a garden and everything grew!” — Nadesna Moran

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

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