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Pedestrians take advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures as they relax along the shore of Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Chicago.

Shafkat Anowar

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: How Big Will This Wave Be?

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and the construction workers outside are especially annoying today. I’m fighting the urge to open a window, put up a speaker and blast the Bee Gees. 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. Chicago, like much of the nation, is in a race to vaccinate as new cases rise

The rise of new coronavirus cases in Chicago is not slowing down, raising questions about whether city officials are doing enough to head off what some health experts worry could be the beginning of another wave of infections.

The city today is reporting a seven-day average of 473 cases per day, up 34% from last week’s average. The positivity rate has climbed from 3.2% to 4.2% during the same time period. [COVID Dashboard]

Nationally, the U.S. is seeing a nearly 19% increase in daily cases compared to two weeks ago, according to the New York Times. The newspaper reports that while the number of cases and deaths have declined from a peak in January, the recent rise in cases is similar to other upticks that snowballed into surges. [NYT]

“How large it will be we’ll need to wait and see,” Dr. Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health, told the Times. “But ideally we would not be waiting to see, ideally we’d be taking action.”

Many health experts believe the worst has passed. Hospitalizations and deaths may not be as severe because many people in high-risk groups have been vaccinated, Hanage said. In Illinois, nearly 70% of residents 65 and over have gotten at least one shot, the Chicago Tribune reported this week. [NYT]

Meanwhile, two mass vaccination sites will open next week in Chicago: one next to Wrigley Field and the other at Chicago State University. [Chicago Tribune]

2. Jury hears from witnesses to George Floyd’s death

Then-Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin gave onlookers a “cold” and “heartless” stare as they urged Chauvin to take his knee off of George Floyd’s neck, testified Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed the widely shared video of Floyd’s killing.

Frazier took the stand today as prosecutors try to make their case against Chauvin, who faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. [AP]

Jurors also heard testimony from Donald Williams, a trained martial arts fighter who warned Chauvin that he was using a “blood choke” on Floyd moments before his death. [NPR]

Here’s a recap of what took place yesterday in Chauvin’s trial. [NPR]

And here’s what we know about the jurors who will decide the former officer’s fate. [NYT]

3. Majority of Americans disapprove Biden’s handling of immigration, poll finds

A poll released today from NPR and Marist found that 53% of Americans, including a quarter of Democrats, disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of immigration as the White House faces a surge of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. Just 34% of people polled supported Biden on immigration.

But when it comes to the pandemic, two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden’s response, including almost a third of Republicans. Overall, Biden has a 52% approval rating. [NPR]

Meanwhile, Biden today announced a diverse lineup of judicial nominations that includes Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was on former President Barack Obama’s short list for the Supreme Court in 2016. [NPR]

4. The Feds are investigating a Chicago-based marijuana company

Green Thumb Industries, one of the nation’s largest pot firms, is under federal scrutiny over pay-to-play allegations as it sought lucrative state licenses, reports the Chicago Tribune. A spokeswoman for Green Thumb said the company was not aware of any federal probe.

The Tribune reports that investigators have been looking at campaign contributions and “other steps Green Thumb Industries took as it sought to secure growing and distribution licenses in Illinois and several other states.”

The newspaper also reports that Green Thumb hired lobbyists and consultants with close ties to then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. [Chicago Tribune]

5. TV streamers learn that people like newsy stuff

Interest in documentaries skyrocketed last year on streaming services, signaling there may be a sizable audience looking for news-related content, according to data pulled by Parrot Analytics, which conducts TV research.

Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and other streaming services appear to be already aware of the trend and have announced new series and documentaries on a wide range of current events, from the Jan. 6 insurrection to the GameStop stock saga.

Will streamers take it one step further and offer daily news? Could they discover an updated version of the 10 o’clock news for a new generation? As they say, stay tuned. [Axios]

Speaking of Netflix, the company will stream a musical about Princess Diana in October, months before audiences can potentially watch it in-person at New York City’s Longacre Theater. [New York Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The CEO of Loretto Hospital will be suspended without pay for two weeks amid the hospital’s ballooning vaccination fiasco. [Chicago Tribune]
  • It’s going to get cold in the Chicago area this evening. [Chicago Tribune]
  • An Evanston bookstore owner is suing Amazon over an alleged price-fixing scheme. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • A Game of Thrones play is in the works. [EW]

Oh, and one more thing …

I really miss going to museums. One of my all-time favorite experiences was seeing a bunch of grade-school kids lose their minds during a field trip as they passed a bunch of Renaissance paintings of nude people at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Anyway, the Louvre recently announced that about 482,000 works have been digitized, representing about three quarters of the entire archive, NPR reports.

“For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage,” said Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre. [NPR]

Tell me something good ...

The weather is getting nicer, and I’d like to know what outdoor activities you’re doing that are safe and fun.

Colie tweets:

“I can’t wait to take our lil pup out on a bike ride after work. She loves the wind in her face and all of the ‘awwwws’ she gets by being in her backpack.”

Yes, there is a pic in the link and the dog is adorable!

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

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