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Kamala Harris

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to a pharmacist before watching a COVID-19 vaccine administered at a Giant Foods grocery store, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Washington.

Andrew Harnik

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: An Exclusive Interview With VP Kamala Harris

Good afternoon! It’s Wednesday, and this will be my campaign song if I ever run for office. Here’s what you need to know today.

(By the way, if you’d like this emailed to your inbox, you can sign up here.)

1. Vice President Harris urges Black Americans to overcome vaccine hesitancy

Vice President Kamala Harris today acknowledged the “righteous, righteous reason” Black Americans are hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but still urged Chicago residents to line up for shots.

Harris spoke exclusively to WBEZ as she promoted the Biden administration’s role in setting up the mass vaccination site at Chicago’s United Center. Harris cited the historical medical mistreatment of Black Americans, such as the infamous Tuskegee Study, a decadeslong experiment that did not treat Black men for syphilis.

“And we must always speak the truth about it. We should never forget it,” Harris said. “But on this issue in this year of our Lord 2021, folks have to take this vaccine when it is their turn. It is safe and it will save lives.” [WBEZ]

You can hear WBEZ’s interview with Harris during a free event that begins at 6 p.m. tonight. WBEZ’s Natalie Moore will talk with Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, and other leading public health experts about the racial disparities in the vaccine rollout. Viewers will also be able to submit their vaccine questions.

This free event begins at 6 p.m. CT, and it will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube. You can find more information in this link. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden today blasted Texas and Mississippi for lifting coronavirus restrictions. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking,” the president said. [Axios]

2. A mass vaccination site is in the works for Wrigleyville

A convention center next to Wrigley Field could become Chicago’s next mass vaccination site this month if city officials sign off on the plan, reports Block Club Chicago.

Advocate Aurora Health says it is working with the city to provide clinical staffing and technical infrastructure for the proposed indoor vaccination site. A spokeswoman for the health care company said the convention center was chosen because of its proximity to public transportation. [Block Club Chicago]

The news comes as officials are preparing for the March 10 opening of a mass vaccination site at the United Center. People aged 65 and over will be able to register for shots at the United Center beginning tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, some states are abandoning federal guidelines and vaccinating people based by age groups, drawing criticism from frontline workers and people with underlying conditions. [NPR]

And scientists are discovering more virus variants. Here’s a look at the ones they are most concerned about. [NPR]

3. Biden agrees to limit eligibility for stimulus payments

Facing pressure from moderate Democrats in the Senate, President Biden has agreed to scale back who is eligible for $1,400 stimulus payments in his $1.9 trillion relief package, reports The Washington Post.

Under the new plan, the benefits would be cut off for individuals making more than $80,000 and couples earning more than $160,000, the newspaper reports, citing an anonymous Democratic aide.

The news comes as the Senate prepares to debate Biden’s relief plan as soon as today. Senate Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote as Republicans are expected to be unified in their opposition to Biden’s plan.

Some moderates had sought to lower enhanced weekly jobless benefits from $400 to $300, but the Post reports that Democrats are not making that change. [WaPo]

4. Lightfoot proposes changes to how cops carry out search warrants

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown today unveiled several reforms aimed at preventing a repeat of the wrongful police raid of Anjanette Young’s home in 2019.

Under Lightfoot’s proposal, no-knock warrants would be banned except in situations where there’s a safety threat. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Police Department has previously said that was already its practice.

The mayor also wants all search warrants to be approved by a deputy chief or higher instead of a lieutenant. And a female officer must be present during searches.

The mayor’s plan is not as strict as one proposed by aldermen and supported by Young, the Trib reports. Some council members want to prevent officers from pointing weapons at children or handcuffing them. [Chicago Tribune]

5. Third man accuses Rev. Michael Pfleger of sexual abuse

A 59-year-old man alleges that Rev. Michael Pfleger grabbed him in a sexual manner when he was 18 and pretending to sleep in the priest’s bedroom at St. Sabina Church, according to an affidavit sent this week to officials at the Chicago Archdiocese.

The man, who is not publicly identified, told the Chicago Tribune that he does not plan to seek a financial settlement. He told the newspaper that he decided to tell his story after two brothers earlier this year accused Pfleger of sexual abuse.

The Chicago Archdiocese is investigating the brothers’ allegations.

Pfleger says he is innocent, and his legal team says the claims against him are false. Pfleger’s supporters at St. Sabina have criticized the brothers and are withholding $100,000 in monthly assessments to the archdiocese. [Chicago Tribune]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Some scientists are concerned the Gulf Stream is losing strength, which could have significant consequences for the world. [New York Times]
  • A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets hit an Iraqi military base where U.S. troops were stationed. [AP]
  • Why were 41 monuments and statues in Chicago flagged as problematic by a committee created by the mayor? City Hall isn’t releasing details about the decision process. [Better Government Association]
  • Chicago’s Mercy Hospital might be sold and could avoid closure. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

March 21 marks the anniversary of when Gov. JB Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order for Illinois. WBEZ wants to hear from you about how your life has changed during the past year.

All you have to do is send us an email that’s 600 words or less. Just mail it to news@wbez.org with the subject line “One Year Story.” WBEZ will then select some of the submissions and work with the authors to create pieces that will be published online and aired on 91.5 FM. [WBEZ]

Want to participate but you’ve got writer’s block? The station has these suggested questions to help you out. Here, I’ll go first.

“Has your relationship with someone changed?” Yes, I’m now on a first-name basis with my sweatpants and the man who delivers alcohol to my apartment.

“Has the pandemic altered your priorities in life?” Yeah, not get COVID-19. And now I need to lose weight before the pandemic is over, but I have to go outside for that.

“Have you learned something meaningful during this time about yourself or the world?” Yes, don’t tolerate people who actively refuse to take science seriously.

Tell me something good ...

March is Women’s History Month, and I’d like to know who is among the women you look up to and why.

Lisa Hessel writes:

“My WHM hero is the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Despite being female and Jewish at a time when those things automatically excluded you from consideration, she devoted her life to the service of others through the law. Her impact on establishing precedent and case law, expanding the boundaries of equality through her great intellect and perseverance, cannot be overstated.”

Feel free to email me at therundown@wbez.org or tweet me at @whuntah.

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