Here’s What You Need To Know For Friday, Oct. 16

Chicago coronavirus
Phlebotomist Sarah Steffeter, right, tests Phillip McTerron, at a COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot of a shuttered store damaged by recent looting in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood in Chicago, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. David Goldman / AP Photo
Chicago coronavirus
Phlebotomist Sarah Steffeter, right, tests Phillip McTerron, at a COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot of a shuttered store damaged by recent looting in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood in Chicago, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. David Goldman / AP Photo

Here’s What You Need To Know For Friday, Oct. 16

Hey there, it’s Friday. We’re just two weeks away from Halloween and I still haven’t settled on an appropriate stay-at-home costume. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Illinois breaks another coronavirus record

For the second day in a row, Illinois reported a record number of new coronavirus cases for a single day. State officials announced 4,554 new cases in the last 24 hours and an additional 38 deaths.

Illinois is seeing a weekly average of 3,069 cases per day, according to The New York Times. That’s up 48% compared to the average two weeks ago. Many health experts say the weekly average is the best measurement for trends.

Cases are also rising in Chicago, which is seeing a weekly average of 475 cases per day. That’s an increase of 43% compared to the previous week. City officials had previously said they would revive more restrictions if cases surpassed 400 a day. [COVID Dashboard]

2. More than 17 million Americans have already casted their ballots

With less than three weeks before Election Day, a record number of people are voting early, reports The Associated Press. Much of this surge has been fueled by enthusiasm from Democrats. Breaking down data from 42 states, Democrats have so far outvoted Republicans 2 to 1.

If early voting trends continue, a majority of Americans could have cast their ballots before Election Day for the first time in history. The trend also suggests results could be available in key states earlier than originally expected. [AP]

And did you miss one or both town halls last night? President Donald Trump said he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, but he would not condemn the QAnon conspiracy theory. Democratic nominee Joe Biden, meanwhile, left the door open to adding more seats to the Supreme Court. You can find more takeaways in the link. [NPR]

3. Most students won’t return to classrooms under new CPS plan

Chicago Public Schools officials unveiled a plan that would see preschool students and those with moderate or severe disabilities return to in-person classes when the school district starts its second quarter on Nov. 9, reports WBEZ’s Sarah Karp. All other students would continue with remote learning.

The district’s proposal has not been finalized, but the Chicago Teachers Union vowed to take all necessary steps to prevent the reopening of schools for students. Union officials questioned why the district would want to reopen schools to some students as coronavirus cases in Chicago are rising. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, the school district saw its largest decline in student enrollment this year. According to CPS, enrollment dropped by 4%, or about 14,500 students, putting the district’s student body at 340,658. A decade ago, CPS had nearly 403,000 students. [WBEZ]

4. Watchdog report suggests Eddie Johnson got preferential treatment when he was found asleep in his car

When officers found then-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson asleep in an SUV a year ago, they made a series of mistakes but did not deliberately try covering up the incident, according to a report released by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who is City Hall’s top watchdog.

But Ferguson’s report suggests Johnson received special treatment, and eight officers involved in the incident have been punished with suspensions. Ferguson’s reports also revealed Johnson had drunk “the equivalent of approximately 10 alcoholic beverages” that evening. [WBEZ]

5. Retail sales increase, but economic outlook remains uncertain

American shoppers helped boost retail spending by a stronger-than-expected 1.9% compared to August, the Commerce Department reported today. Clothing stores and department stores saw some of the biggest increases.

But some economists say the gains in consumer spending were likely fueled by white-collar workers, whose jobs have remained mostly stable during the pandemic. That may explain what appears to be a contradiction: that spending went up while the U.S. faces a historical large number of people who are unemployed. [NPR]

Meanwhile, a recent study estimates that 8 million Americans have slid into poverty since May. [New York Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A city in China tested more than 10 million people after 13 COVID-19 cases were discovered. [NPR]
  • Here’s everything you need to know about secured ballot boxes in Illinois. [WBEZ]
  • Taking a bite out of a Twinkie from 2012 does not sound like a good idea. But someone did just that. [NPR]
  • Here’s a look at how HBO transformed Chicago for Lovecraft Country. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

If you really enjoy public radio, then you might want to check out a free virtual event that WBEZ’s parent company is throwing next week. Chicago Public Media is holding its annual benefit, which helps keep the lights on at the station, and you can watch some of the event’s programming for free.

Among the featured speakers are Morning Edition co-host Rachel Martin, 1A host Jenn White and WBEZ anchor Lisa Labuz. There will also be performances from several Chicago artists, such as Bomba con Buya, Toronzo Cannon and Zor Zor Zor.

The virtual event is on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. You can find more information in the link. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

Halloween is quickly approaching, and I’d like to know: What are your favorite scary movies, TV shows or books?

Bev O. writes:

“This is easy … the old, but terrific film — Night of the Hunter. Chills. Starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish.”

Rhea Basa writes:

“The Invasion of the Body Snatchers from 1956 is the best horror movie. I watched it on TV when I was a child in the ’60s. It seemed like I couldn’t sleep for weeks afterwards!”

And Suan NC Price writes:

“Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is quietly terrifying in a very literary, low-key, almost intellectual way. It’s autumn setting makes it a good October read … and the ‘love conquers fear’ ending is very satisfying, once you make it through.”

Thanks for all the responses this week! I’m sorry I couldn’t share all of them, but it was nice hearing from you! I’ll see you on Monday.