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A pharmacist at Armitage Pharmacy prepares to vaccinate a man with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on February 17, 2020.

Manuel Martinez

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: What You Can Do After Being Fully Vaccinated

Good afternoon! It’s Monday, and it really does feel like we’re getting closer to the end of the pandemic. Now I just need to figure out how to not look like a slightly unhinged George R.R. Martin before I return to the 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. The CDC issues guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans

People who are fully inoculated against COVID-19 can gather indoors together without wearing face masks or remaining socially distant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in what it is calling a “first step” to returning to a more normal world.

But vaccinated people must continue wearing masks in public and resume other precautions when they are around unvaccinated people who are in a high risk group.

Situationally, this means that fully vaccinated grandparents could see their children and grandchildren if everyone is healthy. But the visits should be limited to one household. [AP]

In another sign that the nation appears to be gearing up for a post-pandemic world, Mayor Lori Lightfoot today announced that the Chicago Cubs and White Sox can play games before a limited number of fans in the stands. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, Illinois is vaccinating an average of nearly 93,000 people per day, up 34% from the previous week. [Washington Post]

But the decline in coronavirus cases appears to be slowing. The state is reporting an average of a little more than 1,000 cases per day, down only 6% from the average two weeks ago. [New York Times]

2. What Chicago and Illinois could get in Biden’s relief plan

The House tomorrow is expected to vote once again on a nearly $2 trillion stimulus plan after the Senate made changes to the proposal over the weekend. If it clears the House, the bill will head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Aside from providing stimulus checks and enhanced jobless benefits to millions of Americans, the relief package is expected to provide around $13.5 billion to Illinois. Cook County could get nearly $1 billion. [USA Today]

Illinois officials are expected to use some of the money to pay more than $2 billion debt, reports Crain’s Chicago Business. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is also expected to use some of the aid to pay off Chicago’s debt. Some funds will also be sent to the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace, which have faced budget shortfalls during the pandemic. [Crain’s]

The relief plan would also strengthen safety nets for poor and middle-class families by essentially providing a guaranteed income for at least a year, writes The New York Times. [NYT]

3. Biden signs executive orders seeking to boost women’s rights

President Biden today signed two executive orders that establish a Gender Policy Council and targets Trump-era policies that provided more protections for people accused of sexual assault on college campuses.

The Gender Policy Council will particularly focus on women and girls of color, a Biden official told NPR. The move comes as women have faced worsening inequalities during the pandemic, taking on more job losses and caregiving responsibilities.

Biden also took a step aimed at dismantling controversial Trump administration rules that gave greater protections to students accused of sexual assault and harassment. The president directed the Department of Education to reassess those policies that were issued under the federal civil rights law known as Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools that receive federal funds. [NPR]

4. The U.S. Capitol needs hundreds of new officers and a quick response force, security review finds

A special task force set up in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection is briefing Congress today on its findings and urging lawmakers to adopt several recommendations to avoid a repeat.

The task force, headed by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, issued a 13-page report that recommends hiring more than 800 new officers, creating a “quick response force” that can be mobilized in emergencies and installing a new fencing system.

The report also highlighted several shortcomings of the Capitol Police, which were understaffed and did not possess adequate intelligence tracking resources to prepare for the insurrection. [NPR]

5. Cash-strapped Illinois counties say a sweeping criminal justice bill will cost them more money

A criminal justice bill recently signed by Gov. JB Pritzker includes a body camera mandate for all law enforcement officers, as well as the end of cash bail for defendants awaiting trial starting in 2023.

County officials throughout Illinois say those two provisions will have the biggest impact on their budgets, which have already taken hits during the pandemic. In DuPage County, officials estimate the bill will cost the county $65 million over the next five years.

But advocates of the legislation say it will produce cost savings. Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg says he is expecting to spend less as the jail population drops. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Relaying a message from Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey today said neither Queen Elizabeth nor Prince Philip were the unnamed royal family member who had concerns over the skin tone of Harry’s children. [CBS News]
  • Jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, was delayed today. [NPR]
  • Two Illinois lawmakers are pushing for a federal crackdown on toxic heavy metals in some of the nation’s best-selling brands of baby food that often are marketed as organic. [WBEZ]
  • Tomorrow is expected to be the warmest day this week in the Chicago area. [Block Club Chicago]

Oh, and one more thing …

Smell ya later, Pepé Le Pew.

The controversial cartoon skunk has been cut from the upcoming Space Jam 2 just a few days after The New York Times published an op-ed that said the Looney Tunes character “normalized rape culture,” reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Pepé Le Pew’s cartoons typically centered around the French skunk trying to find “love” by forcefully making unwanted advances on female characters. [THR]

Tell me something good ...

If you could live your life in a movie genre, what would it be?

I’m going with a spy movie because my spy name would be El Cazador. But I’d want to work in the spy agency’s HR department, so I could hear all of the really weird stuff that doesn’t make it into the movie. “So Mr. Bond, you feel burnt out? Have you tried, I don’t know, not killing as many people? Or picking up a hobby that doesn’t include sexual harassment?”

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

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