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People wait in line at the check-in area to enter the United Center mass COVID-19 vaccination site Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in Chicago.

Shafkat Anowar

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: More People Cut Vaccine Line Thanks To Loretto

Good afternoon! It’s Monday, and it’s really nice to be back in a world where the sun is up past 4 p.m. Though I still get tired at 8 p.m. because this pandemic has awakened my inner old man. 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. Luxury watch shop in Chicago’s Gold Coast got vaccines. Turns out a Loretto Hospital official is a customer

This week is picking up where last week left off: more news that Chicago’s Loretto Hospital was handing out vaccines at organizations that have connections with high-ranking hospital officials.

Block Club Chicago reports today that Loretto held a vaccination event at a high-end watch and jewelry store that is frequented by the hospital’s chief operating officer, Dr. Anosh Ahmed.

The vaccinations took place on March 3, when doses were more scarce than they are today, and shots were improperly offered to people who own and work at luxury stores in the Gold Coast area, as well as their friends and family members, Block Club reports. A spokeswoman for the hospital denied the event took place.

Ahmed’s name previously popped up when Block Club Chicago broke the news that staff members at Trump Tower wrongfully were given vaccines. The website reported that Ahmed owns a condo in the building. [Block Club Chicago]

WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos reported that Cook County judges and their spouses were also offered shots by Loretto when they were not eligible. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Ahmed and Loretto Hospital CEO George Miller have been reprimanded by the hospital’s board, but it’s unclear what that means. [WBEZ]

2. New coronavirus cases are rising in the U.S. after months of declines

The nation is reporting a 2.6% increase in the average of daily infections, lending credence to warnings from health officials that another wave is possible as new virus variants spread and local officials relax business restrictions.

In Illinois, the daily average has jumped by 22% in the last seven days, according to The Washington Post. The 14-day average saw a 4% increase, according to The New York Times. [Washington Post]

Mayor Lori Lightfoot today said Chicago is also seeing a slight uptick in cases among people 18 to 39 years old.

Health experts have long warned about a “fourth wave” in the U.S., but some scientists are watching to see if vaccines will limit its impact. This article from The New York Times in late February provides a good look at how experts view what may seem contradictory to some people: a potential rise in cases as vaccines roll out. [New York Times]

Meanwhile, a new mass vaccination site in Illinois will open on Friday in suburban Forest Park. [Chicago Tribune]

3. Attack on U.S. Capitol meets the bar for sedition charges, former federal prosecutor says

Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. attorney who led the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection, said there is enough evidence to charge some suspects with sedition.

“I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that,” Sherwin said in an interview with 60 Minutes that aired last night.

The Justice Department has rarely charged suspects with sedition, which is the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government or use force to “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

The bar is very high to support such charges. The last time the federal government took on a sedition case was in 2010 against members of a militia in Michigan. They were acquitted after a judge said prosecutors failed to prove their case.

Sherwin said more than 400 people have been charged in connection to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. [New York Times]

4. Biden advisers are preparing to recommend spending $3 trillion to boost economy and fight climate change

The president’s economic advisers are putting the final touches on a $3 trillion plan to boost funding in infrastructure, education, workforce development and fighting climate change, reports The New York Times. The plan would be fueled by tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.

The plan, which remains in flux, could include nearly $1 trillion for roads, bridges, charging stations for electric vehicles and improvements to power grids. It also pitches expanding high-speed internet access in rural areas and training programs for millions of workers.

But it’s not clear if such an ambitious proposal will be able to clear the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor thin majority. [New York Times]

5. Illinois restaurants raise a big question about the state’s reopening plan

Tucked into Gov. JB Pritzker’s reopening plan is a rule that allows restaurants and bars to not count fully vaccinated customers in their capacity totals. This is important because the governor’s plan uses health metrics to determine whether to raise or lower capacity limits, so the rule gives bars and restaurants more leeway when serving fully vaccinated customers.

But how do you enforce the rule?

“I am in certainly no position to look at somebody’s medical records in order to give them meatballs,” Alpana Singh, host of WTTW’s Check Please and owner of the Terra & Vine restaurant in Evanston, told Crain’s Chicago Business.

It’s also unclear if Chicago will implement a similar rule. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration is expected to unveil its own reopening plan early next week. [Crain’s]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The U.S., U.K., European Union and Canada all announced sanctions against China for its abusive treatment of Uyghur Muslims. [Axios]
  • Thousands of people have been evacuated as Australia sees the worst flooding in decades. [BBC]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court will consider reinstating the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. [AP]
  • Demand for Chicago-area homes continues to surge as fewer houses are for sale. [Chicago Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

Now that fans have successfully gotten Warner Bros. to release the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League, attention is turning to … Mrs. Doubtfire.

It has long been rumored that Robin Williams improvised so much during the making of the film that there are different versions. In 2015, Mrs. Doubtfire director Chris Columbus joked there was an NC-17 cut of the film.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Columbus says the NC-17 version doesn’t exist, but there is an R-rated one.

“The reality is that there was a deal between Robin and myself, which was, he’ll do one or two, three scripted takes. And then he would say, ‘Then let me play.’ And we would basically go on anywhere between 15 to 22 takes, I think 22 being the most I remember,” Columbus said. [EW]

Tell me something good ...

I finally completed watching the four-hour Zack Snyder cut of the Justice League, and I’d like to know who would be on your superhero team if you could pick anyone.

I’d create the “League of Characters Everyone Hates,” which would include Kate from Lost, Jar Jar Binks, the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man, Bella Swan from Twilight, Scott Bummers from the X-Men, every child actor who could have easily been replaced by a Muppet and Jared Leto.

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

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