Erin Allen: Good morning it's Wednesday, I'm Erin Allen and this is The Rundown.
So a few days ago, I mentioned that Illinois lawmakers are considering a measure that will protect healthcare providers and patients who come here for abortion and gender affirming care. And that measure was passed last night. My colleague Mawa Iqbal is reporting that Illinois will soon be able to block other states where abortion is outlawed from prosecuting and extraditing people when they come here for the procedure. It also mandates that insurance companies fully cover the drugs that are used in abortion procedures, gender affirming care and HIV treatment. Republicans called the measure immoral. And Celina Villanueva was a Democratic Senate sponsor. She didn't like that.
Celina Villanueva: Don't sit here and tell me that you have the moral high ground on your soapboxes over mine. You don't get to decide what happens to my body. You don't get to decide what happens to the bodies of a lot of different people from other states that are coming to this state seeking refuge.
Erin Allen: The measure now needs Governor JB Pritzker's signature and he's expected to sign. Some more things happen in the State House yesterday and I'll tell you more about that a little later.
As much as we're always hoping and wishing and for some of us, declaring it, COVID is not over. Actually in the last week Chicago surpassed 8000 deaths from the virus. The city's public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is saying COVID remains the third leading cause of death locally and nationally behind heart disease and cancer. Now this is sounding pretty grim, I know. But Arwady says this winter isn't looking as bad as last winter. Still, Chicago was in the medium risk category for COVID. But Arwady says that could change with the XBB 1.5 sub variant which is highly transmissible. XBB is now accounting for more than 7% of COVID cases in Chicago.
Now for those of us who have already gotten COVID In the last year or so and did an at home test, off rip, you probably told everybody you live with anybody you expected to see in the next few days, like coworkers homies, classmates, and if you're being really thoughtful, you may have told the last few folks who came into contact with already. But you may not have called your doctor or anybody else was keeping any official record of COVID cases. So you might be wondering: how are public officials tracking all these numbers in the first place? My colleague Clare Lane is reporting that they're actually relying on wastewater. The Illinois Department of Public Health and the University of Illinois are using it to put data online to give residents an accurate idea of what's going on with COVID where they live. Laura Clements is working with the project.
Laura Clements: We recruited wastewater treatment plants from across the state. They collect samples and we measure how much viral RNA of SARS-CoV-2 is in each sample and then we look at generally over time if there are increases or decreases for each area.
Erin Allen: If you want to look into this for your area go to iwss.uillinois.edu.
A new program called the Mobility Opportunity Fund is looking to make eco friendly transportation more accessible to some 250 Chicago West siders. My colleague Indi Khera is reporting that black and brown residents in North Lawndale can apply for stipends to buy bikes, electric bikes, or electric vehicles, and they can get training on how to safely use the equipment. Remmel Terry is with a local community group that's working on the project called Equiticity.
Remmel Terry: This is a great opportunity to introduce a community to alternative modes of transportation and also do it in a way where we're educating them about the climate friendly way to be mobile.
Erin Allen: Applications are open now until May and folks can apply at equiticity.org/mof. Equiticity is spelled E-q-u-i-t-i-c-i-t-y.
And a few quick hits before we get to the weather. A big update for that assault weapons ban. Governor JB Pritzker has signed it into law, which makes Illinois the ninth state in the US with a measure like this. Already several counties are saying they're not going to enforce the law. But Pritzker says oh yes, they will. So it sounds like there's gonna be plenty of fallout and as usual, I'll keep you posted.
And be honest. Is your Christmas tree still up? I know it's not nearly as fun taking it down as it is putting it up. But if you do it in the next week and drop it off at a Chicago Park, you might get a free bag of mulch. There's a list of the 26 eligible parks and info on free mulch at Chicago.org.
As for weather, heads up it's going to be misty and cloudy all day into the evening. So if you're driving, be careful since you may not be able to see as well. Highs in the upper 40s. Today it rained a little bit earlier this morning. And if that hasn't stopped already, it should by this afternoon. Low tonight in the upper 30s. And that's it for The Rundown for now later today is the second half of my conversation with Brad Klontz, that financial psychologist who probably blew up your brain talking about money on Monday, this afternoon. He's talking about a love triangle you might be involved in, you know, the one between you your romantic partner and Ben Franklin.
Brad Klontz: Are we gonna talk about money on day five? Is that too early?
Erin Allen: Brad will talk about how to navigate those awkward money conversations, not only with your spouse, but with your kids too. That's coming up today at two on The Rundown. I'm Erin Allen and I'll talk to you then.
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