The Rundown: Denver has stricter vax mandates than Chicago

With the skyline as a backdrop, motorists move westbound along Speer Boulevard, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Denver. David Zalubowski / AP Photo
With the skyline as a backdrop, motorists move westbound along Speer Boulevard, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Denver. David Zalubowski / AP Photo

The Rundown: Denver has stricter vax mandates than Chicago

Hey there! It’s Wednesday, and good luck to the Chicago Sky as they face off in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals against the Connecticut Sun tonight. Here’s what you need to know today.

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1. Could Chicago learn something from Denver’s vaccine mandate?

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is meeting virtually today with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to discuss voting rights. But I got curious about whether Denver has implemented a vaccine mandate.

The answer is: Yes, and it’s more aggressive than Chicago’s and has largely been successful in boosting inoculations among city workers, including police officers, reports The Denver Post.

Nearly 99% of city employees were fully vaccinated before last Thursday’s deadline. That includes about 98% of the Denver Police Department. Workers who outright refused to get their shots will be fired, the Post reports. [Denver Post]

In Chicago, Lightfoot announced an aggressive mandate in August that all city workers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.

But the mayor’s office last week quietly relaxed that requirement, saying unvaccinated workers could stay on the job and undergo regular testing. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, officials in Los Angeles today approved one of the nation’s strictest vaccine requirements. [AP]

2. Chicago Park District supervisor accused of having a relationship with an underage lifeguard

The Chicago Sun-Times reports a supervisor abruptly resigned from the Chicago Park District’s Beaches and Pools Division after being accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl. [Sun-Times]

The news comes as the park district faces mounting questions about how it handles sexual misconduct complaints. Nearly a dozen former employees have come forward to tell WBEZ about widespread misogyny and sexual misconduct spanning the past five decades at public beaches and pools.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx this week announced her office has created a hotline, 312-603-1944, for lifeguards who have suffered sexual abuse and wish to talk to investigators. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Evanston officials issued a public apology to young women who say they were sexually abused while working at the northern suburb’s lakefront beaches. [WBEZ]

3. COVID-19 cases and deaths are falling in the U.S., but about 68 million eligible Americans are unvaccinated

The nation appears to have turned the corner on the summer wave of COVID-19 infections that killed more than 100,000 Americans in under four months, reports The New York Times.

But health experts warn future surges remain possible, especially with the holidays quickly approaching. And about 68 million eligible Americans haven’t gotten their shots.

“We’re not out of danger,” Ali Mokdad, a University of Washington epidemiologist and former CDC scientist, told the newspaper. He said the U.S. could see cases begin to climb in December and January as Americans travel and drop their guard. [NYT]

Meanwhile, the Biden administration announced today it will spend $1 billion to boost the nation’s supply of at-home COVID-19 tests. [CNN]

4. Student loan forgiveness is temporarily expanded to teachers, service members and others

Starting today, more than 550,000 people are a step closer to having their debt on federal student loans forgiven.

The U.S. Department of Education is temporarily expanding the eligibility of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to people who work for the government and certain nonprofit organizations.

To qualify, borrowers must make 120 on-time student loan payments, participate in a qualified repayment plan and have loans made directly by the federal government. [NPR]

5. Fat Bear Week crowns a winner

And it’s 480 Otis, a portly four-time champion of Alaska’s annual competition that highlights the large bear population at Katmai National Park and Preserve.

480 Otis faced some long odds as he stomached out his competitors. He emerged from hibernation a bit late this year, looking very thin and facing health problems, reports NPR. And 480 Otis, believed to be 25 years old, faced a much younger 151 Walker in the final match for the Fat Bear crown.

But in the end, 480 Otis won over more fans, receiving more than 51,000 votes compared to less than 45,000 for 151 Walker.

As one commenter said of 480 Otis: “His perseverance, will to live (he was having such difficulty walking at first; his hind legs had problems), and skill as an angler — plus his inter-bear communications — well, they just spoke to me.” [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Could a $1 trillion coin solve the debt ceiling crisis … or is it just a gimmick? [Washington Post]
  • President Joe Biden said the price tag of his $3.5 trillion package of social and environmental initiatives will likely be smaller. [AP]
  • A Chicago police officer who took a knee in protest wants her suspension by the city’s Fraternal Order of Police reversed. [Chicago Tribune]
  • Chicago’s WTTW-Channel 11 will air the Charlie Brown holiday specials. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

I’ve been watching Netflix’s wildly popular Squid Game, a thriller following cash-strapped people in South Korea who call a phone number to participate in a deadly chance at winning a whole lotta money.

And now Netflix is editing the phone number after a South Korean woman said she’s been getting calls and text messages nonstop, reports Reuters, which had no luck reaching the woman on her … phone. [Reuters]

Tell me something good …

It’s never too early to plan your Halloween costume. What will you be this year?

David Kopka writes:

“I’ve been the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz (homemade costume) that I wore with my daughters and son. And now almost 40 years later, I’m wearing it with my grandchildren!”

And Christina B. writes:

“I plan to dress up as V (real name Kim Taehyung) of the K-pop group BTS, in the clothes he wore for the last scene of their “Dynamite” video. Easy costume — light blue everything! It’ll be in tribute to BTS’ ongoing success, V voted as ‘2021 world’s most handsome man’ and the group’s ability to provide happiness to so many fans (aka ARMY) during this pandemic.”

Feel free to email me at or tweet me at @whuntah, and your responses might be shared here this week.

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