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Coronavirus live blog, Feb. 7, 2021: CTU reviewing potential deal with CPS to reopen schools

Here’s the latest news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois.

The Chicago Teachers Union said Sunday that it’s reviewing a proposal from the city that could lead to a deal to reopen Chicago Public Schools.

Here’s what else happened in COVID-related news.

News

5 p.m. CTU reviewing potential agreement with CPS that could avert lockouts, strike

CTU President Jesse Sharkey and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Rich Hein; Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The Chicago Teachers Union is reviewing a potential agreement with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to reopen schools for in-person learning and avert the city’s second teachers strike in 15 months.

Under the city’s latest proposal, which grants the union many of its requests, no teacher or staff member would be required to return to work before being offered a vaccine, and the reopening of schools would be pushed back to March for elementary and middle school students.

At a late morning news conference, an upbeat mayor said she was “tremendously pleased” to announce that at “long last” the two sides appeared to have a deal.

“We are here to announce the very good news that our children will be returning to in-person learning this week,” Lightfoot said, referring to preschool and special education students that would return on Thursday if the deal is approved. “This agreement was about making sure that everyone in our school communities just aren’t safe, but also that they feel safe.”

CPS CEO Janice Jackson said she was “happy that we have a resolution and that we’re moving forward.”

The union tweeted Sunday morning, however, that “we do not yet have an agreement with Chicago Public Schools” until its representative governing body takes a vote.

Read Nader Issa and Tom Schuba’s full story here.

3:24 p.m. Illinois records 2,060 new COVID-19 cases, 48 additional deaths

Illinois on Sunday recorded its smallest daily COVID-19 caseload in four months.

State health officials announced 2,060 new probable and confirmed coronavirus cases, the fewest reported in a single day since Oct. 6. The new cases were found among a batch of 81,550 tests processed by the Illinois Department of Public Health in the last 24 hours for a daily positivity rate of about 2.5%.

Illinois averaged 2,862 new cases each day through the first week of February. That’s a 55% decline from the first week of January when the state averaged about 6,379 new cases per day.

The state’s infection rates also have been on a steady decline over the last month.

After peaking at 8.6% in early January, the statewide seven-day positivity rate is down to 3.4%, the lowest that figure has been since early October. In the last week, that figure, which indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading, has fallen 0.5%.

Read Madeline Kenney’s full story here.

11:20 a.m. Local artist aims to ‘Protect Little Village’ with public art that celebrates mask wearing

Silvia Morales detested creating art as a child, and she probably would still feel that way today if not for an art teacher in high school.

“That teacher helped me find that I not only had a passion in something I thought I hated, but she showed me I had a future career in it,” Morales said.

Now, the 20-year-old herself is pursuing a career in art education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is beginning to make a name for herself in Little Village’s public art scene.

Morales’ work largely is commentary on social injustices and the need for unity among Black and Brown people on the Southwest Side. Her first major mural was painted with her own students outside Ald. Mike Rodriguez’s (22nd) office and calls for harmony between Little Village and Lawndale residents.

“The mural is kind of, in a way, a message for accountability to ourselves and the need to build unification beyond the divide we constructed between us over the years,” Morales said. “It came about because of the struggles that came from the summer of civil unrest that we were going through not just locally but nationally.”

Read Manny Ramos’ full story here.

Saturday 2:30 p.m. 3K more residents infected, but 63K more vaccinated against coronavirus across Illinois

Public health officials on Saturday announced another high vaccination day for Illinois as the state logged 3,062 new cases of COVID-19 and 60 more deaths attributed to it.

Just over 63,000 shots went into arms Friday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the third highest number of doses administered in a day with the state almost two months into an unprecedented vaccination campaign.

Nearly 1.3 million shots have been doled out in all, but only about 285,000 people have received both required doses so far — not even 2.3% of the population. Officials are aiming to immunize at least 80% of the state’s 12.7 million residents.

But the effort has gained steam over the past two weeks as about 3.2 million eligible residents continue scrambling to lock up vaccination appointments. The state’s rolling average of doses administered per day is now up to 49,909.

Read the full update from Mitchell Armentrout here.


Analysis & Commentary

From Friday — Making a list, getting ready to make up for lost time, which can’t come soon enough

There’s an Italian restaurant we like on Ogden Avenue in Clarendon Hills called ZaZa’s. It’s nothing fancy, just good food.

Even in normal times, we don’t get to ZaZa’s often because it’s quite a hike from where we live now in the city. With the virus, it’s been at least a year since we’ve eaten there.

One of ZaZa’s specialties is something they call Pesce Bianco al Spinaci, which the menu describes as “whitefish roasted with extra virgin olive oil, capers, lemon and white wine, served with a side of fire-roasted spinach.”

It’s soooo good. The fish. The sauce. I can’t stop thinking about it lately.

I’ve pretty much decided to put it at the top of The List.

You know, The List — all the things you want to do when this is finally over.

Surely, you have one by now, if only in your head.

At this point, it’s not so much a matter of whether you’re thinking about what you’re going to do when the pandemic winds down as whether you can think about anything else. That can be a problem, of course, because, even with the vaccines, we’ve still got a long ways to go.

Read the full column from Mark Brown here.