Here’s What You Need To Know For Thursday, Oct. 15

People wait in line to early vote at the Loop Super Site in downtown Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. It is the only location allowing early voting in the city right now, but early voting will expand to locations in all 50 wards on Oct. 14. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
People wait in line to early vote at the Loop Super Site in downtown Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. It is the only location allowing early voting in the city right now, but early voting will expand to locations in all 50 wards on Oct. 14. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

Here’s What You Need To Know For Thursday, Oct. 15

Hey there, it’s Thursday! And “dueling town halls” totally sounds like a public radio show. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Illinois reports a record number of coronavirus cases in a single day

State officials today announced 4,015 new coronavirus cases have been reported in the last 24 hours, the highest number in a single day since the start of the pandemic. Officials reported more than 5,000 cases on Sept. 4, but that surge was due to a backlog in processing.

The number of COVID-19 deaths also rose to 53, the highest number reported since late June.

In a statement, the Illinois Department of Public Health said today’s record number of cases came after more than 67,000 tests were performed. But the number of tests does not appear to be the only reason behind today’s surge. On Oct. 2, the state processed more than 72,000 tests and reported 2,206 cases. [WBEZ]

Illinois is seeing a weekly average of 2,930 cases per day as of yesterday, according to The New York Times. That’s an increase of 40% from the average two weeks ago.

In Chicago, the average number of cases per day is now 442, up 32% from the previous week’s average. City officials had said they would consider bringing back restrictions if the average surpassed 400. [COVID Dashboard]

The news comes as infections are rising throughout the U.S., particularly in the Midwest.

“What’s happening in the Upper Midwest is just a harbinger of things to come in the rest of the country,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of Minnesota. [New York Times]

2. With debate canceled, Trump and Biden attend competing town halls

Instead of seeing both candidates in the same forum, American voters will essentially have to choose which candidate they want to hear from tonight, as President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will take part in separate town halls that are scheduled at the same time.

Trump will be on NBC from Miami, and Biden will appear on ABC from Philadelphia. Both start at 7 p.m. CT. Here’s a look at how you can watch. [CNN]

NBC’s decision to hold its town hall at the same time as ABC’s event, which had been announced first, has been criticized by former NBC executives, journalists, professors and activists. CNN’s Brian Stelter has a fascinating report about what went on behind the scenes as NBC planned its town hall.

“So now NBC is ‘giving Trump exactly what he wants,’ in the words of one exasperated senior staffer: a made-by-TV rivalry between the president and Biden.” [CNN]

Meanwhile, two people who traveled with Sen. Kamala Harris have tested positive for the coronavirus, causing the Biden campaign to cancel Harris’ in-person events through the weekend. A spokesperson said Harris tested negative in two PCR tests performed since Oct. 8. [NPR]

And Facebook and Twitter took the highly unusual steps to limit the readership of a New York Post article that includes unconfirmed claims about Biden. [NPR]

3. Nearly 900,000 workers filed jobless claims last week

Unemployment claims rose last week to 898,000 from 845,000 the previous week, the Labor Department announced today, signaling that employers continue to shed a historically high number of jobs that further puts the nation’s economic recovery in doubt.

Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin were among 17 states that saw significant increases in jobless claims, according to The Associated Press.

“Further recovery looks to have stalled out,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the job search website Indeed. [AP]

As the economic pain appears to grow, Republicans and Democrats in Washington have been unable to reach a deal on providing more federal relief, which economists across the ideological spectrum say is needed right now.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today the White House was open to making more concessions to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but the chances of a deal appear remote as Senate Republicans largely oppose a broad relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected Trump’s recent calls for a big bill and instead wants slimmed-down legislation. [CNBC]

4. Chicago Police Department largely rejects latest attempt to update use-of-force policies

Only five out of 155 recommendations from a community task force will be accepted by the Chicago Police Department, causing some task force members to question the department’s sincerity in seeking feedback from the public.

“I am in no way satisfied,” said Amika Tendaji, an organizer with Black Lives Matter who was a member of the task force. “The spirit of what the working group tried to come up with is that police should have a stronger duty than the average Chicagoan to not hurt people, to not shoot people and to not beat people.”

The Police Department instead agreed to accept changes that appear mostly symbolic and focus on wording. For example, instead of using the word “subject,” the department agreed to use “person.” [WBEZ]

5. A Chicago Police officer says former top cop Eddie Johnson repeatedly raped her

Officer Cynthia Donald filed a lawsuit this week alleging that former police Superintendent Eddie Johnson used his position at the department to harass her and pressure her into sex, reports WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.

“Superintendent Johnson, while serving as Plaintiff’s superior and direct supervisor, engaged in shockingly violent, abusive, and harassing conduct towards Plaintiff,” the lawsuit reads.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Donald was out drinking with Johnson on the night that Johnson ended up asleep behind the wheel of his car, which ultimately led to Johnson’s firing.

In the lawsuit, Donald says Johnson “ordered” her to join him that evening.

An attorney for Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A Senate panel is expected to vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court next week. [NPR]
  • Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s proposed budget does not include news taxes or tax hikes. [WBEZ]
  • A new poll finds that 54% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of his COVID-19 diagnosis and his response to the pandemic. [AP]
  • An endangered lemur is missing from the San Francisco Zoo, and officials worry he may have been stolen. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

In “this is why we don’t deserve good things” news: a huge Halloween display in Rogers Park closed early because it was hit by thieves and vandals.

The display, known as “Dead on Damen,” has been around for eight years and takes up most of the east side of the 7500 block of North Damen Avenue. Earlier this week, thieves stole a number of items from the enormous and elaborate displays, reports Block Club Chicago.

“My first reaction was anger,” Jessica Bernardi, who helps organize the display, told Block Club. “It’s difficult to have to call it quits.”

Neighbors have created an online fundraiser to help raise money to replace the stolen items. [Block Club Chicago]

Tell me something good …

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

Kathy writes:

“The scariest book that I ever read was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. There have been two movies that are supposed to be based on the book, but they are not even close. The first time that I read the book, I stayed up all night reading it because I was too scared to put it down. Even after reading it a second time, it haunted me for days!”

George Gerdow writes:

“My pick for scariest movie is The Witch. Set in 1630s New England, it well evokes the Puritan sense of tangible evil constantly surrounding them, and features a nasty goat named Black Philip. Fun for all!”

And Cathy O’Connell-Cahill writes:

“My favorite scary movie is the great 1944 ghost story The Uninvited starring Ray Milland, which my sister Barb introduced me to when I was a kid. Ray Milland and his sister buy a beautiful old house on a rocky seacoast in England. The owner, a gruff old gent played by the great Donald Crisp, sells it for less than it’s worth and labors mightily to keep his granddaughter (Gail Russell) from going to the house to hang out with the new neighbors. When a ghostly voice keeps the brother and sister awake by sobbing all night, the real fun begins. A classic ghost story, but Milland adds a delicious sense of humor. Still scary to this day.”

Which are your favorite scary movies, shows or books? Feel free to email at or tweet to @whuntah.

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