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 a pleasant one with partly sunny skies, a light breeze and a high near 69 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 36 degrees. Tomorrow will be cloudy and much cooler with a high near 44 degrees.
Reopening retreat: State’s move into less restrictive ‘bridge phase’ pushed back as cases rise, hospital beds fill
Reopening plans are being pushed back in Illinois as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations rise yet again statewide, public health officials announced this afternoon.
With 70% of seniors vaccinated with at least one dose, the state had been on pace to see some business restrictions lifted this week under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “bridge phase” before a full reopening by May.
Not so anymore, as coronavirus cases mount and more people head to hospitals with the deadly respiratory disease. The governor’s intermediate reopening plan also required hospitalizations to “hold steady or decline over a 28-day monitoring period.”
That count has risen almost daily since hitting a one-year-low of 1,082 beds occupied by COVID-19 patients March 12. A total of 1,396 beds were taken up last night — the most since late February.
“As long as new hospital admissions continue to increase, the state will not advance to the Bridge Phase and on to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan,” officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement. “The number of cases of COVID-19 has seen an increasing trend as well. Health officials continue to urge all residents to continue to mask up, socially distance, and avoid crowds to reduce transmission and bring the metrics back in line to transition to the Bridge Phase.”
More news you need
- Authorities have identified Travon Chadwell, 18, as the gunman who allegedly shot a police officer and a security guard last week at a Southwest Side Home Depot. Chadwell, of Marquette Park, allegedly ran after the shootings, then was fatally shot by a CPD officer who chased him from the store.
- President Joe Biden picked his first federal judicial nominees today, including a former federal public defender, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, to be on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago. If confirmed, Jackson-Akiwumi would give the Seventh its first judge of color since Judge Ann Claire Williams retired in 2018.
- The CTA, Metra and Pace should test sharply reduced bus and train fares — or no fares at all — to lure back riders who abandoned mass transit during the pandemic, an influential planner said. MarySue Barrett, retiring president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, said something dramatic needs to be done to rebuild rider confidence.
- An Evanston bookstore owner wants to take on Amazon as part of a class-action lawsuit that accuses the retail giant of orchestrating a price-fixing scheme with the nation’s leading book publishers. Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends and Beginnings, says Amazon’s dealings make it impossible for other retailers to compete with its prices.
- Another sign of spring arrives in two days as the city’s street sweeping parking rules go back into effect until mid-November. Starting Thursday, watch out for temporary orange no-parking notices to avoid being towed on street sweeping days.
A bright one
When the White Sox welcome back a limited number of fans to Guaranteed Rate Field for games this spring, parents with young children can expect a new state-of-the-art accommodation to make it easier to enjoy a day at the ballpark.
Two years after the club introduced a Mothers’ Nursing Room to provide a clean and convenient area in the stadium for breastfeeding women, the space will now also offer a self-sanitizing diaper changing table that uses a “patented UVC light system which is known to kill 99.9% of germs” in less than a minute.
The table comes from a Chicago-based company called Pluie, which was started by a pair of local mothers, Addie Gundry and Brittany Hizer, who decided to address the fact that public diaper changing stations haven’t changed in decades.
The company says the UVC technology in the device is widely used today by hospitals to sanitize patient rooms after use. It has plans to install the self-sanitizing tables in other public areas such as restaurants, parks, and retail, healthcare and education facilities.
From the press box
With the Cubs set to become the first city team to allow fans since the COVID-19 shutdown, the question remains: Is it safe? It’s easy to be confused when the director of the CDC said yesterday that she feels a sense of “impending doom” with rising caseloads, Rick Telander writes.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo says he’s “done everything I can” in extension talks with the club and wants to turn his focus to the games starting Thursday. “I love what Wrigley Field and being a Chicago Cub is all about. But, obviously, it didn’t work out thus far, and that’s OK,” Rizzo said. “I’m at peace with it.”
Your daily question ☕
Do you expect to use public transit as much as you did prior to the pandemic once it ends? Tell us why, or why not.
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: What are your plans for spring break this week? Here’s what some of you said...
“Hide from all of the mask-less tourists and kids on break from school they barely went to this past year.” — Alex B G Owens
“I’m going to celebrate my 70th birthday with family.” — Annie Foster Williams
“Our daughter’s college spring break is next week. We are driving to Florida.” — Jennifer Carrizales Ramsey
“Going to stay close to home, go to look around at the stores and restaurants!” — Ivan Ruíz
Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.