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Afternoon Edition: March 31, 2021

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

Mohsin Omer’s 12-year-old son has been diagnosed with cancer. 
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 increasingly cloudy with a chance of scattered sprinkles and a high near 43 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 25 degrees. Tomorrow will be sunny and cool with a high near 39 degrees.

Top story

As son undergoes cancer treatment, Chicago Ridge man pushes for US to allow Yemen-based wife to travel

Mohsin Omer was in the midst of waiting for his Yemen-based wife’s green card to arrive when the couple’s 12-year-old son started experiencing neck pain in December.

Soon after the boy, who lives with Omer in southwest suburban Chicago Ridge, was diagnosed with Burkitt leukemia.

Grappling over the trauma of having a severely ill child, Omer petitioned the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, hoping his wife could come as soon as possible so they could care for their ill son together.

But nothing has come of it so far, Omer’s Chicago-based attorney Nicole Provax said recently.

“Now with my son’s situation, I can’t wait longer,” Omer, 37, said of his decision to file for a “humanitarian parole” application for his wife, Sanaa Saleh Abdellah Mohammad.

“It’s not for me, it’s for my son.”

Humanitarian parole allows individuals to temporarily enter the United States due to an emergency situation. The application typically takes 90 to 120 days for the USCIS to process, Provax said.

Officials with USCIS declined to discuss Omer’s family’s situation because the agency doesn’t comment on individual cases. But an email the USCIS sent Omer said his request was not expedited in February because there wasn’t a “time sensitive action that must occur within a specific time frame.”

Keep reading Elvia Malagón’s story here.

More news you need

  1. A “quantum leap” in COVID-19 cases reported in Chicago recently has further fueled concerns of a potential third surge of the virus. The city’s seven-day positivity rate has risen 57% over the last three weeks while hospitalizations are up 24% in the same span.
  2. There were two separate police shootings last night in the Portage Park neighborhood, according to the Chicago Police Department. Less than an hour after an officer fatally shot a man who had allegedly pulled out a gun, police say an off-duty officer shot someone breaking into their home.
  3. Even though CPD Supt. David Brown says he’s committed to reforming the department, the changes are continuing to come slowly. The city missed about 40% of last year’s deadlines under a federal consent decree, according to a watchdog report released today.
  4. The largest firehouse in Chicago history — and the first new multi-apparatus facility in decades on the Far South Side — opened for service today. The $30 million firehouse is a personal and very emotional triumph for Ald. Carrie Austin, who has campaigned for a new firehouse for 16 years.
  5. Twenty-six Chicago-area restaurants have been picked to participate in an “accelerator program” from DoorDash that includes a $20,000 grant and free marketing among the benefits. More than three-quarters of the local restaurants selected are owned by women, 92% by people of color and nearly 40% by immigrants.
  6. Were Alison Victoria’s tears real? A new lawsuit filling by former co-host Donovan Eckhardt questions the authenticity of several scenes in a Season 2 episode that showed Victoria crying while discussing her falling out with Eckhardt. Mitch Dudek has the story.
  7. The revelatory new documentary “Moment of Truth” asks: Did the right man take the rap for killing Michael Jordan’s father? Read Richard Roeper’s review of the five-part series, which will be available Friday on IMBd TV.

A bright one

10-year-old from Ukrainian Village a finalist in nationwide Sun-Maid competition

A young student at St. Helen’s Catholic School is a finalist in a nationwide storytelling competition for the chance to help Sun-Maid create new snack ideas.

For Samuel Loza, 10, telling stories is more than a hobby — it’s his way to connect to others.

“When I was in Brazil, storytelling was one of the ways I made friends,” he said.

Born in Chicago, Samuel has already lived in three countries — the United States, United Arab Emirates and Brazil — because of his mother’s job at an international confections company. He and his family currently call Ukrainian Village home. As a world traveler, Samuel has also studied Arabic, English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Samuel Loza, 10, stands near the front of St. Helen Catholic School, in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Samuel said playing with his baby brother Nico gives his imagination “another level” that he can then channel into his stories. At the encouragement of his parents, Samuel entered the competition for a chance to sit on the inaugural Sun-Maid Board of Imagination.

As board members, kids will learn about Sun-Maid’s history as a growers’ cooperative, how raisins are made, sustainability practices and how Sun-Maid turns whole fruit raisins into snacks. The group will also provide input to guide future decisions (like snacks!) at the company.

Each child on the board will receive $5,000 to use toward college tuition and their school will receive $5,000, too. Sun-Maid will also give each kids’ school a year’s supply of snacks.

Read Grace Asiegbu’s full story here.

From the press box

The Cubs have signed catcher Tony Wolters to a one-year contract a day before their season opener. Wolters will back up Willson Contreras to open the year.

A tough few weeks for the Blackhawks haven’t hurt Adam Boqvist’s jovial, fun-loving personality — or his development on the ice, where the 20-year-old has been one of the team’s few bright spots in March, Ben Pope writes.

Your daily question ☕

What’s your favorite thing about springtime in Chicago?

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: Do you expect to use public transit as much as you did prior to the pandemic once it ends? Here’s what some of you said...

“Pre-pandemic I relied exclusively on the CTA to get to work downtown, but now that I picked up a biking habit this past year, I plan to bike along the lakefront on good weather days – and during those bad weather days, I’ll take advantage of the time to read/relax that only commuting with public transit affords!” — Víctor Alejandro Jaramillo

“I will have to unless I want to pay over $20 a day to park downtown in the city and deal with the headache of rush hour traffic.” — Liz Cherco-Selck

“Yes. It reduces our carbon footprint. And it’s great for the economy as it creates jobs and it’s affordable for all.” — Tajan Harris

“I will probably not take as much as I did before the pandemic. The rise in crime on CTA makes me uneasy and afraid for my safety.” — Alejandra Rz

“No, too many germs, the transmission rate is so high. Walking, driving and Uber are the best bets.” — Rosalyn A. Ford

“No! Will definitely continue to work remotely as much as I can. Not going back to that craziness!” — Lucia DiNicola Bertrand

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

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