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A Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is administered, Dec. 20, 2021, in Federal Way, Wash.

A Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is administered, Dec. 20, 2021, in Federal Way, Wash.

Ted S. Warren

The Rundown: COVID reinfections can still be dangerous

Good afternoon. Here’s some exciting news: The Rundown is expanding into a podcast hosted by my wonderful colleague Erin Allen. The first episode comes out Monday with a special guest. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Repeat coronavirus infections may be even more dangerous than the first, a study finds

People infected twice or more had a much higher risk of death, hospitalization and health complications compared to people inflected just once, regardless of vaccination status, according to a study from the Department of Veterans Affairs of nearly 41,000 people.

“People in the study with repeat infections were more than three times more likely to develop lung problems, three times more likely to suffer heart conditions and 60% more likely to experience neurological disorders than patients who had been infected only once,” Reuters reports. [Reuters]

Meanwhile, two new omicron subvariants are now dominant in the U.S., raising concerns the nation will see another winter surge of COVID-19 infections. [NPR]

2. Illinois Democrats vow to strengthen and clarify the criminal justice reforms known as the SAFE-T Act

“After months of being pummeled by Republicans and law enforcement officials over controversial provisions in the massive criminal justice reform package, Democrats say they expect ‘clean-up’ language, but no substantial changes to the intent of the bill, when lawmakers head to Springfield next week,” report my colleagues at the Chicago Sun-Times.

To help them identify areas to improve, working groups have been created that include law enforcement, states attorneys, advocates and lawmakers, who are still negotiating over language that will be included in a trailer bill.

“Many of the things that were said about the SAFE-T Act were lies. Hard stop. Flat out lies,” House Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, told the Sun-Times. “All the while, we’re still working with law enforcement to strengthen and clarify what is the intent of the original language from January 2021.” [Sun-Times]

3. A $100,000 reward is being offered for information surrounding a noose found at the site of the Obama Presidential Center

Lakeside Alliance, the group overseeing the center’s construction, is offering the reward for help in finding those responsible for placing the noose at the site, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Obama Foundation said in a statement that the incident was “shameless” and “designed to get attention and divide us. Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce.”

Construction was halted yesterday when the noose was discovered, and Lakeside Alliance is holding anti-bias training for staff and workers.

“This is just awful,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston, whose 5th Ward includes the center. “We know they exist, but they are amongst us, those that have that kind of hate. But there is no room for hate.” [Sun-Times]

The discovery of the noose comes as city officials say Chicago faces a surge in reports of hate crimes. [Sun-Times]

4. Biden says the U.S. will do its part to avoid a ‘climate hell’

President Joe Biden today tried boosting the U.S.’s image at a climate summit of world leaders in Egypt. Biden did not announce any new major policies, but said the U.S. is following through on vows to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’re proving that good climate policy is good economic policy,” Biden told a room of representatives of governments around the world. “The United States of America will meet our emissions targets by 2030.”

But looming in the background at the summit are questions over whether the U.S., China and other wealthy nations owe developing countries reparations for increasingly destructive climate impacts. [NPR]

The international summit comes as the world may have just nine years to prevent catastrophic warming, according to a new study. [Washington Post]

5. Chimpanzees and gorillas: Best buds 4 eva

For more than 20 years, researchers watched chimpanzees and gorillas in the Republic of Congo and found they can develop lasting friendships, according to a paper published in the journal iScience.

“They witnessed young individuals of both species playing and wrestling with each other — interactions that can foster their development,” NPR reports. “And when bands of the two species encountered each other, researchers saw gorillas and chimps scan the others and then approach the ones they knew.”

OK, now that I think about it, wasn’t this a plot point in one of the more recent Planet of the Apes movies? Well, if so, I for one welcome our new overlords. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Ald. Tom Tunney takes a pass on Chicago’s mayoral election. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Here’s a look at how close votes are for outstanding House and Senate races. [NPR]
  • Applications for student loan forgiveness were suspended after a federal judge struck down the plan. [Politico]
  • The weather will get cooler in the Chicago area this weekend. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

I’d like to give a special shoutout to someone who has been a pleasure to work with — Maureen O’Donnell, who is retiring as the obituary writer for the Chicago Sun-Times. I’m not going to lie, the news is making me teary eyed.

Maureen’s empathy and ability to connect to people from all walks of life helped make her one of the best in the biz.

And while I’ll deeply miss seeing her byline in the paper, I look forward to hearing about her adventures traveling. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good ...

I got to see this precious sweet angel last week. His name is Ernie, and he is a big dog who thinks he is a small dog.

But he’s got me thinking: What is one of your favorite pets?

Kim writes:

“Furrio. Hands down. Furrio is my favorite pet of all time. My 8-year-old self named him after picking him out from the animal shelter because he licked my hand through the chainlink cage. He was by far the most chill dog at the shelter. Turns out that’s because he had all the worms.

“After nearly two decades of being comically ornery and excessively furry, his legacy came to an end on Oct. 16, 2006. I remember the date because he passed away during halftime of the Monday night football game when the Bears overcame a 20 point deficit to beat the Arizona Cardinals. The NFL ranks it as one of the greatest comebacks of all time. The Bears scored NO points in the first half then won it 24-23. I’m not saying... I’m just saying. A legend of a dog and a legendary comeback!”

And Helen wrote a haiku:

Kitty has no claws;

her velvet paw draws my hand

close, enough to bite.

Thank you so much to everyone who shared their memories of their favorite pets. I’m sorry I couldn’t share them all, but it was nice hearing from you this week.

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