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Afternoon Edition: May 27, 2021

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

Residents receive COVID-19 vaccines at the Tinley Park Convention Center in January. The mass vaccination site is closing along with two others in suburban Cook County as demand fades.
Residents receive COVID-19 vaccines at the Tinley Park Convention Center in January. The mass vaccination site is closing along with two others in suburban Cook County as demand fades.
Brian Rich/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.

Showers are likely this afternoon with a high near 61 degrees. Tonight, expect rain and possibly a thunderstorm with a low around 49. Tomorrow more showers are likely with a high near 50.

Top story

More mass vaccination sites shutting down as COVID-19 positivity rate dips below 2% for first time ever

Illinois’ COVID-19 testing positivity rate keeps falling, and so does the demand for vaccines.

With the average statewide infection rate sinking below 2% for the first time ever today, the doors were closed on three suburban mass vaccination sites as officials take a more targeted approach to get more life-saving shots into arms.

Cook County County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was scheduled to “clap out” workers administering the final shots this afternoon at a mass vax site at the Tinley Park Convention Center. It’s one of six large-scale sites that have provided hundreds of thousands of shots to residents since the start of the year.

But with vaccines now easy to come by at most pharmacies and doctors’ offices — and with about half of Illinois adults fully immunized — the Tinley location is closing down along with those in South Holland and River Grove. After administering some final shots, their operations will be consolidated with sites in Forest Park, Des Plaines and Matteson.

Cook County Health officials say the next phase of a historic vaccination campaign will focus on “redeploying resources to support hyperlocal, community-based vaccination initiatives.”

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lightfoot’s proposal to require stores to cut off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. every night is “not written in stone,” a top mayoral aide said today. Fran Spielman has the latest on the possible curfew, which could be pushed back or eliminated entirely.
  2. Adam Toledo’s family and friends gathered yesterday to announce plans for Adam’s Place — a rural sanctuary for kids to interact with nature and farming. The announcement came on what would have been Adam’s 14th birthday.
  3. A divided City Council agreed yesterday to let a medical cannabis company expand its Jefferson Park dispensary, with some objecting aldermen citing inequality in the weed industry. An overwhelming majority of cannabis businesses are owned by white men.
  4. Chicago Tribune employees have been offered buyouts as the paper’s new owner, Alden Global Capital, works quickly to cut costs. The hedge fund is looking to cut payroll after funding its acquisition with $278 million in debt.
  5. Medically fragile and immunocompromised CPS students will have a centralized virtual learning option in the fall, while full-time in-person learning will be mandatory for all other children. The virtual option will mean that teachers won’t have to simultaneously instruct students in-person along with remote students.
  6. Lawmakers yesterday passed a bill that would allow the early release of terminally ill people who are incarcerated. They also advanced an effort to put collective bargaining rights into the state’s Bill of Rights.
  7. Fears of side effects from COVID-19 shots remain the top reason Illinois residents reject the shots, new statewide polling data shows. Concerns that the process to develop the vaccine was rushed could have contributed to a recent statewide slowdown in vaccinations as well.

A bright one

Family reunited in Chicago after five years on different continents: ‘It’s been a very, very long time’

Congolese refugee Mapenzi Mweniake came to Chicago in 2016 with her son and her extended family to begin a new life after spending 20 years in a Tanzanian refugee camp.

Her husband, Mwenebatu Mwenemkamba, was forced to remain behind in the camp, waiting for clearance that never came as the Trump administration dismantled the U.S. refugee program before COVID-19 introduced its own roadblocks.

Yesterday, the couple was reunited at last at O’Hare International Airport, both husband and wife saying how happy they were for the chance to start anew.

Mwenebatu Mwenemkaba, center, waits with his wife Mapenzi Mweniake and son Mussa Mrisho, 12, outside of O’hare International Airport’s Terminal 5, Wednesday. Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Mweniake, a small group of supporters and a media contingent waited expectantly for more than an hour outside Exit A of the international terminal. She clutched a bouquet of roses and her son Mussa, age 12.

But Mwenemkamba emerged from a different door and suddenly was standing there before her. Just as quickly, she found and embraced him, burrowing into his shoulder.

“I’m very happy to meet my wife again because, you know, it was a long time, five years, we were not together. I’m very happy, and I thank the Lord,” Mwenemkamba said.

Mweniake said one of the first things she wants to do with her husband is take him to see the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo. First, though, she wanted to give him that big hug.

Read Mark Brown’s full column here.

From the press box

Javy Baez had the baseball world buzzing this afternoon after an incredible sequence in which he lured a Pirates player into a disastrous bit of fielding that led to a Cubs run. You know Baez did something special when his teammates react like this:

After NBC Sports’ Chris Simms ranked Justin Fields 39th out of 40 active NFL quarterbacks, our Rick Morrissey asked whether the analyst is being reasonable with his skepticism.

And Patrick Finley looks at the Bears’ cap situation for 2022 after the NFL announced a $208.2 million cap ceiling for the season after next.

Your daily question ☕

What do you think of Lightfoot’s proposed ban on booze sales after 10 p.m.?

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: With most Chicago beaches set to officially reopen Friday, which one’s your favorite? Tell us why. Here’s what some of you said…

“Montrose. Because dogs.” — Robb Johannes

“Rainbow beach, best handball courts in the world.” — Brian Connolly

“Loyola because it’s usually pretty empty.” — Larissa Rachelle

“31st!!! #HouseMusic.” — Kem Hashan

“Osterman. North Side. Bathrooms and lots of space. Shady in back where trees are. Cafe and food too. Not as crowded as North Ave.” — Debbie Mytych

“Hollywood/Osterman because it’s beautiful there with not only the beaches but all the gorgeous green space and spectacular views.” — Shelly Harris

“My water hose in the backyard.” — Helen Johnson

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

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