Hey there, it’s … only Monday? I worked through the weekend and will be off the next two days with my head underneath a margarita maker. Here’s what you need to know today.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot today delivered a series of mixed messages as she discussed the city’s response to the current surge in coronavirus cases.
The mayor said she will revive restrictions if cases continue to rise while acknowledging that infections are showing little sign of slowing down. Lightfoot said Chicago is facing “a second surge,” which many health experts estimate will eclipse previous outbreaks.
When asked if bars and restaurants should face more restrictions, the mayor said “we’re not seeing this as a source.” But Lightfoot also said young residents have not been wearing masks inside bars.
“We have increasingly seen large gatherings of unmasked — unmasked — young people walking down our streets, where they’re bar-hopping, traveling in large groups to someone’s apartment. Folks, that has to stop,” the mayor said.
Lightfoot said the city would do “targeted interventions” to stop the spread of the virus, but she acknowledged infections are up among every age group and demographic and conceded that a targeted response could be difficult in such a situation.
The mayor’s comments come as Chicago saw a weekly average of 508 cases per day, up 45% from the previous week. The city’s positivity rate, which has steadily increased, is at 5.4%. [WBEZ]
Meanwhile, Illinois officials today announced 3,113 new cases and 22 additional deaths. The state is seeing a weekly average of 3,698 cases per day, according to The New York Times. That’s up 86% compared to the average two weeks ago. [NYT]
Gov. JB Pritzker blamed the recent surge on pandemic fatigue and President Donald Trump for “modeling bad behavior.” The governor today said he will now hold briefings every weekday on the state of the pandemic in Illinois. [WBEZ]
2. Lightfoot is considering a $94 million property tax hike to help close $1.2 billion budget shortfall
Mayor Lightfoot is also looking at laying off more than 300 city workers, a gas tax hike and refinancing about $500 million in city debt, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Lightfoot is expected to unveil her plan for closing the $1.2 billion budget shortfall on Wednesday. Sources familiar with the mayor’s plan told the Trib that her proposal will not be finalized until she presents it to the City Council.
The mayor needs at least 26 aldermen to support her budget plan in order for it to pass. Given Lightfoot’s often combative relationship with aldermen, as well as the prospect of raising taxes when unemployment remains historically high, it’s not immediately clear if a majority of the council will support the mayor. [Chicago Tribune]
As Lightfoot prepares to present her plan, negotiations over a federal relief package still remain in a state of uncertainty. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday set a 48-hour deadline to reach a deal on delivering more aid before the Nov. 3 election.
Among the issues dividing the Democrats and Republicans is providing relief to states and local governments that have seen their budgets decimated by the pandemic. [VOX]
President Trump attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, during a conference call with campaign aides this morning.
“People are tired of COVID,” Trump said. “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong.”
In an interview that aired last night on 60 Minutes, Fauci said he was not surprised Trump contracted the virus after holding large events where few people were wearing face masks. [AP]
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases are quickly rising throughout the nation and steadily climbing toward a new peak that would surpass the summer surge. The seven-day daily average is now more than 56,000 cases a day, which is up 30% from the average two weeks ago. [NPR]
Worldwide, the number of known cases has surpassed 40 million, but health experts say that’s the tip of the iceberg. [NPR]
About 2,100 local newspapers have shut down in the U.S. since 2004. Brian Timpone, a former TV reporter in Illinois, has sought to fill that gap with a nationwide network of 1,300 local sites that “is built not on traditional journalism but on propaganda ordered up by dozens of conservative think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives and public-relations professionals,” reports The New York Times.
The newspaper reports that “behind the scenes, many of the stories are directed by political groups and corporate P.R. firms to promote a Republican candidate or a company, or to smear their rivals.”
Among those who have paid Timpone’s companies is Jeanne Ives, a Republican candidate who is currently running against Rep. Sean Casten in Illinois’ 6th Congressional District. Ives told the Times she was not buying positive coverage and that the $55,000 she paid to Timpone’s companies during the last three years were for a website and to have someone monitor her Wikipedia page. [NYT]
Because it’s 2020, I’m not sure I’m completely surprised by this story.
Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says a 6.5 foot asteroid might “buzz-cut Earth” on what might seem like an obvious day — the day before the Nov. 3 election.
But he says there’s nothing to be worried about, and NASA says the asteroid has a 0.41% chance of entering our atmosphere.
Honestly, Billy Joel could update “We Didn’t Start the Fire” with just this year alone. [USA Today]
Here’s what else is happening
- The U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases tied to President Trump’s policies regarding the Mexico border. [NPR]
- Excavation crews are searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa massacre at a new site. [NPR]
- About 1 in 4 Americans say they have considered quitting their jobs, according to a new poll. [AP]
- A man is in custody after he dangled from a rope off of Chicago’s Trump Tower for more than 13 hours. [Chicago Tribune]
Oh, and one more thing …
It’s the last call for submissions in WBEZ’s virtual costume contest, and you could win a gift card!
All you have to do is send us pictures of your costumes at email@example.com, or you can send direct messages to the station via Facebook and Instagram.
The deadline for the contest is tomorrow at midnight. WBEZ will begin announcing winners on Oct. 26. [WBEZ]
Tell me something good …
Are you dressing up for Halloween as you’re social distancing? If so, what are you dressing up as?
Me? I’ll be dressing up as a 37-year-old gay dork who has given up on looking acceptable in public.
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