Here’s What You Need To Know For Tuesday, Oct. 13

Amy Coney Barrett
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett listens during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool
Amy Coney Barrett
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett listens during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Here’s What You Need To Know For Tuesday, Oct. 13

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and my only regret as a gay man is that I never had a quinceañera because those parties look like a blast. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Amy Coney Barrett won’t say whether she thinks Roe v. Wade should be struck down

A Senate panel today began questioning Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett refused to answer questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein about her view on Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision establishing a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

“If I express a view on a precedent one way or another, whether I say I love it or I hate it, it signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case,” Barrett said.

Democrats also pressed Barrett on the Affordable Care Act. As a law professor, Barrett had been critical of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision that upheld the law. That has raised concerns from Democrats that, if confirmed, Barrett could strike down Obamacare in a case that’s currently before the nation’s high court.

“I am not hostile to the ACA,” Barrett told senators today. [NPR]

Barrett will face more questions tomorrow. WBEZ will provide live coverage on 91.5 FM from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT.

2. Can the GOP hold its majority in the Senate?

The influential, nonpartisan Cook Political Report today updated its ratings for a handful of Senate races, and it is now projecting that “Democrats are now the clear favorite to flip control of the Senate.”

Democrats would have to win four Senate races in order to become the majority, or three if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidential race. According to the Cook Political Report, Democrats are favored to flip at least two seats in Arizona and Colorado. Seven other races are rated as toss-ups. [New York Times]

In other election news, President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden today traveled to battleground states that they see as critical to winning the Electoral College. Biden made his third visit this month to Florida, and Trump traveled to Pennsylvania. [AP]

In Virginia, a severed cable caused the state’s online voter registration portal to shut down on the last day register before the Nov. 3 election. [AP]

And after deflecting questions for weeks about whether he would add more seats to the Supreme Court, Biden recently said he is “not a fan.” [NPR]

3. Illinois surpasses 9,000 COVID-19 deaths

State officials today announced 2,851 new coronavirus cases and 29 additional deaths. That brings Illinois’ death toll to 9,026 and the total number of known cases to nearly 325,000.

Illinois is seeing a weekly average of 2,618 cases per day, according to The New York Times. That’s an increase of 30% compared to the average two weeks ago. [WBEZ]

In Chicago, the weekly average is 364 cases per day, up by 10% compared to the previous week. City officials have previously said that more coronavirus restrictions could return if the city hit an average of 400 cases per day.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, today told reporters that the rise in cases can be attributed to an increase in testing.

But Arwady said the city is currently at a delicate moment: The reproductive rate of the virus is roughly around one, meaning that every person infected on average passes the virus to one other person. Arwady said getting the reproductive rate below one would signal the local outbreak is under control. [COVID Dashboard]

Arwady’s comments come as Chicago placed Indiana on its travel quarantine list. [WBEZ]

The pandemic has highlighted racial disparities in health care. Here’s a look at why it’s harder for people of color to get medical care in parts of Chicago. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson halted trials of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine after a participant became sick with an “unexplained illness.” [NPR]

A 25-year-old man in Nevada is the first confirmed case of someone being infected with the coronavirus twice in the U.S. So far, five reinfections have been confirmed worldwide. [NPR]

And a growing number of companies are telling workers to not plan on returning to the office until next summer. [New York Times]

4. Warning lights begin flashing over unpaid property taxes in Cook County

Property taxes are a main source of revenue for local governments. In Chicago, property taxes help fund everything from public schools to taking care of parks.

One of the many questions raised during the pandemic is how badly will the economic crisis hit property taxes as unemployment remains historically high. A new report from Crain’s Chicago Business helps begin filling in the blanks for the Chicago area.

Hotels and malls top the list of commercial properties that owe millions of dollars in property taxes that were due Oct. 1, according to data released by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas. In Chicago, some of the biggest unpaid bills come from Marriott and Hilton hotels.

“One of the Hiltons, the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport, is owned by the city of Chicago and is operated by Hilton — meaning that a hotel owned by the city is late in paying taxes that go in part to the city treasury,” reports Greg Hinz at Crain’s.

Hinz notes that local governments are not in too much trouble so long as the bills are eventually paid, and they could even bring in more money because of late fees. [Crain’s]

5. World’s largest movie-theater chain says it could run out of money by the end of the year

The dire economic crisis facing the movie industry escalated today, as AMC Theatres said it could run out of money by the end of this year or early 2021 if it does not raise additional funds or bring back more moviegoers to theaters.

The news comes as studios push back the release of major movies into the next year, resulting in a dwindling lineup of new movies that would attract theatergoers. Among the highly anticipated blockbuster films now slated for 2021 are the sci-fi epic Dune, Marvel’s Black Widow and the next James Bond movie, No Time To Die.

AMC said today it has opened 494 of its nearly 600 theaters, but attendance is down by 85% compared to last year. [CNN]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Virginia’s governor was discussed as a possible target by members of an anti-government group charged last week with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor, an FBI agent said. [NPR]
  • The number of dual language schools in Chicago has tripled, prompting concerns about whether support for nonnative speakers is being stretched too thin. [WBEZ]
  • Chicago’s top cop told the city’s newest class of police recruits that they may need to buck the department’s culture, and even their own trainers, to do what’s right. [WBEZ]
  • A pumpkin weighing 2,350 pounds won the 47th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. [AP]

Oh, and one more thing …

I dressed as a devil for Halloween one year when I was a kid, and my grandparents were not thrilled about it.

Anyway, WBEZ is throwing a virtual costume contest, and you could win a cash gift card prize! All you have to do is send us pictures of your costumes at web@wbez.org, or you can send direct messages to the station via Facebook and Instagram.

The deadline for the contest is Oct. 20. WBEZ will begin announcing winners on Oct. 26. [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?

Matt Gibson writes:

“I can’t say I’m much of a scare or gore person, but my Halloween go-to for the past several years has been Shawn of the Dead. It’s just a great send up of a traditional zombie movie, in my opinion. Plus, you can never go wrong with a well placed Queen song.”

And Paige tweets:

“You asked for our favorite scary movies, shows and books. … Well, the scariest show on TV right now is the news.”

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

Have a nice night! If you like what you just read, you can subscribe to the newsletter here and have it delivered to your inbox.