Here’s What You Need to Know For Tuesday, Oct. 20

Indoor dining closed
The seating area is closed-off at a food court on April 3, 2020. Gov. Pritzker announced that indoor dining will be banned in DuPage, Kane, Will and Kankakee counties starting Friday. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press
Indoor dining closed
The seating area is closed-off at a food court on April 3, 2020. Gov. Pritzker announced that indoor dining will be banned in DuPage, Kane, Will and Kankakee counties starting Friday. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Here’s What You Need to Know For Tuesday, Oct. 20

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Hi all, it’s Tuesday. And this story felt like “Tiger King” all over again. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Indoor dining shut down in many suburbs

Gov. JB Pritzker said today that bars and restaurants in DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties will be closed to indoor patrons starting Friday after a recent spike in coronavirus cases. Gatherings of more than 25 people will also be banned in those counties.

DuPage and Kane counties have reported 10 straight days of positive increases, with a 9% positivity rate as of Oct. 17. Will and Kankakee counties have had nine straight days of increases and are reporting a 8.6% positivity rate. [WBEZ]

Illinois officials today announced 3,714 new cases and 41 additional deaths. The state is seeing a weekly average of 3,813 cases per day, according to The New York Times. That’s up 87% compared to the average two weeks ago. [NYT]

Meanwhile, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, Delaware and West Virginia were added to Chicago’s quarantine list today, bringing the total to 30 states and Puerto Rico. [Chicago Tribune]

Nationwide, the weekly average of new daily cases is above 58,300 — numbers not seen since the summer. And more than a dozen states have set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations. [CNN]

2. U.S. accuses Google of suppressing smaller competition

The Justice Department today filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the internet powerhouse is intentionally stifling the competition. Eleven Republican-led states have joined the lawsuit, and leaders of other states have indicated they too may join.

The suit, which NPR calls “the federal government’s most significant legal action in more than two decades” against a technology company, claims Google used profits to buy special treatment from web browsers and smartphone makers.

“No one can feasibly challenge Google’s dominance in search and search advertising,” Attorney General William Barr said.

However, Google called the lawsuit “deeply flawed” because people are not forced to use the search engine. [NPR]

How did Google go from a simple web search tool to a corporate behemoth now powering our maps, security cameras, photo albums and more? Here’s a look at Google’s history. [New York Times]

3. Tens of millions of people have already voted

At least 33 million people have voted nationwide — including 17 million in battleground states, according to The Washington Post. That’s 70% of the total number of early votes cast in 2016, with two weeks remaining until Election Day.

“Democrats hope this energy leads to a decisive victory on Nov. 3. Registered Democrats are outvoting Republicans by a large margin in states that provide partisan breakdowns of early ballots,” the Post reports. “Republicans, however, are more likely to tell pollsters they intend to vote in person, and the GOP is counting on an overwhelming share of the Election Day vote going to Trump.” [Washington Post]

Meanwhile, a Washington Post analysis found that swing states have some of the most erratic mail service — which may have implications for states like Michigan and Wisconsin that have strict mail-in voting deadlines. [Washington Post]

And in Florida, “armies of lawyers” are preparing for a legal clash over potential recounts. Among the lawyers who worked on the legal team for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in Florida’s infamous 2000 presidential recount: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and President Donald Trump’s latest nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. [Miami Herald]

4. Will Washington reach a COVID-19 relief deal before the election?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he told the Trump administration today not to make a coronavirus relief deal before the election, The Washington Post reports.

McConnell has said that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not negotiating in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and a deal now could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Pelosi has denied the allegations. [Washington Post]

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had hoped for federal funding to help close a projected $1.2 billion deficit. A WBEZ analysis found that last year’s budget was the single largest year-over-year jump in more than a decade. The mayor will announce her new budget plan tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. [WBEZ]

5. The U.K. is preparing for a vaccine trial that will deliberately infect subjects

In a controversial move, researchers at the Imperial College London are preparing to start a “human challenge” study for a COVID-19 vaccine that exposes dozens of healthy volunteers to the coronavirus.

Proponents of the study — which will cost the U.K. $43.4 million — say it will significantly speed up the development of a vaccine. But critics say this type of study raises ethical concerns, particularly with a deadly virus such as COVID-19.

Vaccines for seasonal flu, cholera and typhoid have previously been tested in these types of studies. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The Trump administration and Russia are nearing a deal to freeze nuclear warheads. [Washington Post]

  • Amazon Fresh is hiring 1,500 workers for its grocery stores opening in the Chicago area. [Chicago Tribune]

  • U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico will stay closed another month. [NPR]

  • The feds are investigating the city of Chicago over a civil rights complaint from environmental groups. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Ever wonder who has the power to decide how police are hired and disciplined? Or who controls how much money public schools get? Is it the mayor? My alderman? A committee chair?

As part of WBEZ’s 2020 Citizens Agenda project, in partnership with City Bureau, we created a field guide to local government that connects your top local issues to the public officials with power to change the policy around them. Using this tool, tell us your address and we’ll provide localized context for top issues — plus we’ll tell you who your representatives are and how to contact them. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

Are you dressing up for Halloween as you’re social distancing? If so, what are you dressing up as?

Alex Frantz writes:

“My partner and I scrapped our costume idea from earlier this year (as with most things in 2020) and have opted to have a little fun with the restriction that our characters HAD to have masks as a part of what they typically look like. All the safety, none of the compromise! We ordered full body Spider-man and Spider-gwen suits and they are … f***ing awesome. We are planning to wear them outdoors for some cider + fire distanced hangouts with friends, and I’m actually excited for something for once this year.”

And Kayla writes:

“My girlfriend and I are throwing the world’s smallest Halloween get together with three other people, all who have taken this pandemic seriously (thank goodness). My girlfriend, our best friend, and myself are going to be Donna and the Dynamos from ‘Mamma Mia! The Musical.’ We can’t wait to be groovy! :)”

Feel free to email or tweet us your costume ideas, and they might be shared here this week. Thanks for reading and have a nice night! We’ll see you tomorrow.