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Afternoon Edition: March 18, 2021

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

Gov. J.B. Pritzker listens during a press conference at the Thompson Center in the Loop.
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.

This afternoon will be mostly cloudy and windy, with wind gusts of up to 55 mph a high near 40 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 31 degrees. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 41 degrees.

Top story

Pritzker unveils reopening plan, vaccinations available for all over 16

Nearly a year after he issued his first stay-at-home order, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced his plan to reopen the state, a “bridge” phase that includes increasing capacity limits at places like museums and zoos but also sets thresholds for vaccinations and new COVID-19 caseloads as the state inches toward normalcy “with a dial-like approach.”

The governor also announced the expansion of coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all Illinois residents over 16 — except Chicagoans — starting April 12 along with the new “bridge” phase as part of his plan to reopen the state.

“Although we still are in the midst of a global pandemic, the end seems truly to be in sight,” Pritzker said.

To enter that “bridge” phase to fully reopen, 70% of residents 65 and older must have received their first dose of the vaccine, the state must maintain a 20% or lower intensive-care-unit bed availability rate and hold steady on COVID-19 and COVID-like illness hospital admissions, mortality rate, and case rate over a 28-day monitoring period.

During that intermediate stage, museums will see their capacity limitations increase from 25% to 60%. The same limitations will apply to zoos. And festivals and general admission outdoor, spectator events will be able to seat 30 people per 1,000 square feet.

Meetings, conferences and conventions will see their capacity limit increase to either 1,000 people or 60%, whichever is less. The limitations around meetings also apply to theaters and performing arts venues.

The governor also said that Illinois will resume normal business operations “when at least 50% of our 16 and over population has received at least one dose.”

Read Rachel Hinton’s full story on the latest reopening information here.

More news you need

  1. A Peoria man faces federal charges for threatening the lives late last year of then-President Donald Trump, a downstate U.S. attorney and a federal judge. The indictment alleges that Damien Grant, in a Dec. 22 letter to Trump, said “I’m going to have you shot.”
  2. A 37-year-old man faces murder and attempted murder charges after allegedly gunning down his ex-wife’s parents late Tuesday in downstate Sheridan. Donald A. Fredres was ordered held on a $5,000,000 bail at LaSalle County Correction Center, according to county records.
  3. An 8-year-old girl jumped to safety from a third-floor window of a burning home in Washington Park yesterday after throwing a mattress to the ground. Firefighters then rescued her younger brothers, ages 2 and 5.
  4. “Serial stowaway” Marilyn Hartman was ordered held without bail today after being arrested again at O’Hare Airport two days earlier. Hartman’s lawyer said she went to the airport again because she was “triggered” by an old TV interview of herself that she saw over the weekend.

A bright one

For Chicago theater star Felicia P. Fields, award caps a year of ‘reflection’

Long before her thundering alto and radiant stage presence made her a Tony Award nominee and one of Chicago’s brightest musical theater stars, Felicia P. Fields was an investigator for the Chicago Park District. It wasn’t as cloak-and-dagger as it sounds.

“Me and this guy named Percy were in internal investigations. We’d find people sleeping on the clock or whatever. That sort of thing,” she said. “We were hated. But we were both aspiring actors, and the schedule was just enough so that we were able to do the thing we really wanted to do.”

Over the course of her career, she’s collected a Clarence Derwent Award, multiple Black Theatre Alliance and Joseph Jefferson awards, and years of critical accolades from across the country.

On March 20, Fields will pick up yet another trophy: Porchlight Music Theatre’s annual Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre in Chicago.

Sofia (Felicia P. Fields, left) has some strong words for Squeak (Stephanie St. James, right) in this scene from the first national touring production of “The Color Purple.”
Paul Kolnik

Fields — who earned a 2006 Tony nomination for creating the role of Sofia in the musical adaptation of “The Color Purple” — says she finds inspiration in the award named for a peer she valued in life. Adkins died of colon cancer in 2010, after almost 20 years as one of Chicago’s best song-and-dance men.

Read Catey Sullivan’s full story here.

From the press box

Former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky found a new home today in Buffalo, where he’ll be expected to back up Pro Bowl passer Josh Allen.

The trade deadline may be looming, but there’s only so much Arturas Karnisovas will be able to do with this Bulls roster as currently constructed, Joe Cowley writes.

While he’s still far off from a possible return to the Blackhawks, captain Jonathan Toews “seems in good spirits,” GM Stan Bowman said during a podcast published by the team.

Your daily question ☕

If you could watch an extended version of any movie, a la “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” what would it be?

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: If you’re among Americans receiving the $1,400 stimulus check, what do you plan to do with it? Here’s what some of you said...

“Paying our delinquent bills we’ve occurred during the pandemic. Credit cards, utility, etc. If I’m lucky maybe I can finish the last few payments I have left on my car.” — Sarah Hewitt

“Hold onto it as long as I can ... never know when I’ll have an emergency!” — Dianne McNure Lindsey

“Bought a carpet cleaner. I need to invest in some good running shoes. But the rest is going to taxes I owe, vaccinations for my pet, and medical bills.” — Brandy Baker

I’ve applied it towards credit card debt, which was likewise the case with earlier stimulus payments.” — Larry Ellis Reed

“My son’s portion is going into his college fund” — Kristine Beaman

“My dogs and cats, whether residents or fosters. Vet bills, food, toys, crates, gates, the list goes on and on. There’s nothing I’d rather spend it on though. — Marie Halvorsen

“Putting it in savings for when the travel ban is lifted, then take a nice trip.” — Ellyn O’Neill Bard

“It’s all going to go to rent and bills.” — Bran Eveland Cron

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