Here’s What You Need To Know For Wednesday, Oct. 14

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

Here’s What You Need To Know For Wednesday, Oct. 14

Hey there, it’s Wednesday! And I’m waaaay ahead of you, Uncle Sam. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Coronavirus cases are rising, and it could get way worse

Public health experts are concerned that a second wave of the pandemic may already be underway, as many states reported larger numbers of coronavirus cases week over week.

And it could get worse in the winter, when the virus has a greater advantage to spread as people stay indoors, experts warn.

As The Washington Post reports, it’s not clear what exact factors are fueling the recent rise in infections — if it’s the change in weather or “pandemic fatigue” or businesses reopening — but 20 states, including nearby Indiana, have hit new highs in their seven-day average of case counts, which experts say is the best way of measuring trends. [Washington Post]

One notable model estimates the U.S. could reach more than 394,000 deaths from COVID-19 by Feb. 1. That model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, also projects Illinois’ death toll could grow to more than 18,000 in the next four months. To put that in perspective, the state has reported a little over 9,000 deaths during the last seven months.

When it comes to cases, the model projects Illinois could hit a peak of nearly 17,000 cases per day in late November. That estimate includes people who are not tested. [IHME]

Today, state officials announced 2,862 new cases and 49 deaths. Illinois is seeing a weekly average of 2,881 cases per day, which is up 42% compared to the average two weeks ago. [New York Times]

In Chicago, the weekly average is 399 cases per day, an increase of 20% from the previous week. City officials had previously said they would consider bringing back more restrictions if Chicago reached 400 cases per day.

But Dr. Allison Arwady, the head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, recently said the city is now looking at other metrics, like the virus’ reproduction rate, to make those decisions. [COVID Dashboard]

2. Graham praises Barrett for being “unashamedly pro-life”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the influential Judiciary Committee, opened today’s hearing by praising Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court as a historic victory for conservatives.

“This is the first time in American history that we’ve nominated a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology, and she is going to the court,” Graham said.

During today’s last round of questioning from senators, Barrett defended herself against suggestions she would help overturn the Affordable Care Act, which is currently before the Supreme Court in a case that questions whether it’s constitutional.

“I have no animus or agenda for the Affordable Care Act,” Barrett said.

Barrett was also questioned about the powers of the presidency. Barrett said “no one is above the law,” but she declined to say if the president could pardon him or herself. [NPR]

3. Early voting sites are now open throughout Chicago

Chicago voters can now cast their ballots early at voting sites in each of the city’s 50 wards. You can find more information about the sites, including when they’re open, in this link. [Chicago Board of Elections]

One of the biggest issues facing Illinois voters is Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax. The state currently has a flat income tax, meaning that everyone gets taxed at the same rate regardless of how much money they earn. WBEZ’s Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney break down who would pay more under Pritzker’s proposal. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, tomorrow’s presidential debate has been canceled, but President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will make their cases to voters in competing town halls.

Biden will appear on ABC at a town hall moderated by anchor George Stephanopoulos. Trump will be on NBC in a town hall event moderated by Today show host Savannah Guthrie. Both events begin at 7 p.m. CT tomorrow. [USA Today]

Former President Barack Obama is planning on visiting various states for Biden’s campaign, reported The New York Times. Among the states discussed are Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida, all crucial battleground states. [NYT]

Here’s a look at the eight states that will largely decide the election. [Politico]

4. More questions emerge over Illinois’ process for doling out cannabis dispensary licenses

State regulators have spent nearly three years trying to take away the video-gambling license of a company owned by Jeffrey Rehberger, saying the company operated in a way “that would discredit or tend to discredit the Illinois gaming industry or the state of Illinois,” records show.

Now, another company led by Rehberger is currently one of only 21 applicants deemed qualified to split the 75 new state licenses for pot shops.

“That decision by officials regulating the licensing process has prompted heated criticism, with losing bidders and some Illinois lawmakers alleging the process has been secretive and unfair to minorities,” reports WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos and Mariah Woelfel. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen, who once served as one of the state’s top pot regulators, confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that she has an ownership stake in a company that is a finalist for dispensary licenses. [Sun-Times]

5. More fallout in the Eddie Johnson scandal

At least five Chicago police officers, including a high-ranking commander, face suspensions after then-police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was found asleep in a city-owned SUV last year, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The news comes as the city’s top watchdog, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, could release more details of his investigation in his upcoming quarterly report. The Tribune reports one of the officers under investigation by Ferguson had gone out drinking with Johnson before he was found asleep.

Johnson initially said he fell asleep because he forgot to take medication, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the top cop told her privately that he had “a couple of drinks.” The mayor fired Johnson, who had already announced his plans to retire, because he allegedly lied to her about the incident. [Chicago Tribune]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Amy Cooper, the white woman who called police on a Black birdwatcher in New York City, made a second 911 call falsely claiming the man “tried to assault her,” prosecutors say. [AP]
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today that he does not expect a new relief package will be approved before Election Day, causing stocks to fall. [CNBC]
  • Gov. JB Pritzker and other local officials are criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Trump administration to end the census early. [NPR]
  • Anybody need a hug? [BBC]

Oh, and one more thing …

Here’s some good news: Nerdette Recaps are coming back, and the gang will review some classic movies from 1999, like The Matrix, Office Space and The Blair Witch Project.

Hosts Greta Johnsen, Tricia Bobeda and Peter Sagal from Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me will be back together for a new round of recaps that begins on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Click the link to hear a trailer. [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?

Elise Zerega writes:

“While Hocus Pocus has gotten a lot of attention in the past few years, I want to give Teen Witch its due. I found it super spooky as a kid (so much ’80s hair! Bucket hats!), and, as an adult, am hard pressed to find a better rap than “Top That.”

Chris writes:

“We are watching the Universal Studios collection of monster flicks. Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, all good stuff!”

And Michael writes:

“Been on a Dario Argento roll lately. Opera and Deep Red were both great.”

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

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