Good afternoon! It’s Monday, and I wish there were a state plan to close down the winter, because I am not mentally prepared for snow. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)
Indoor service at bars and restaurants will be banned in suburban Cook County beginning on Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker’s office announced today as it revived business restrictions to combat a record surge in coronavirus cases. Outdoor service is still allowed but must end at 11:00 p.m., officials said.
The significant rise in cases comes as public health experts are increasingly worried that hospitals could be overwhelmed. As WBEZ’s Tony Arnold reports, hospitals in suburban Cook County currently have only 25% of their beds available, with 30% of ICU beds available. That is very close to the 20% threshold that Pritzker’s administration has laid out in its plan for bringing back more restrictions. [WBEZ]
State officials today reported 4,729 new cases and 17 additional deaths. Illinois is seeing a weekly average of 4,456 cases per day, which is up 76% compared to the average two weeks ago. The state’s positivity rate stands at 6.3%.
The number of cases also continues to climb in Chicago, which is seeing a rolling seven-day average of 703 cases per day as of Saturday. That’s an increase of 39% compared to the previous week’s average. [WBEZ]
I recently talked to Dr. Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, about the surge facing Illinois and much of the country. And I keep thinking about something he told me: “I’ve studied pandemics, and they all end,” Murphy said. “Every one of them ends. The question is: How long does it take to end? And how many people will die?” [WBEZ]
Cases are rising throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe. NPR has this map that tracks infections worldwide. [NPR]
As cases mount, so do concerns about the U.S. economy at a time when the White House and Congress are unable to reach a deal on a new relief package. [AP]
Wow, we’re just days away from the Nov. 3 election. More than 59 million people have already cast their ballots as of Sunday night, according to federal data, and that’s about 43% of the 2016 total.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden holds a 52% to 43% lead over President Donald Trump, according to an average of national polls. But the winner will be decided by key states in the Electoral College, and several state polls indicate the race may be tightening.
Click the link to learn more about the latest state polling and other things to watch as the election enters its final phase. [NPR]
Meanwhile, are you feeling stressed out about the election? You’re not alone. Nearly 70% of people surveyed by the American Psychological Association said the elections were a major source of stress. Here are some tips on how you can manage anxiety. [NPR]
Despite objections from Democrats, the Senate GOP is preparing to take a final vote today on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Democrats would need at least four defections from Senate Republicans in order to torpedo Barrett’s nomination, and that appears unlikely. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who previously said she opposed filling a Supreme Court vacancy during an election year, said on Saturday that she would nonetheless vote to confirm Barrett.
President Trump plans to hold a swearing-in ceremony outdoors tonight at the White House following the Senate’s vote, The New York Times reports. [NYT]
That’s according to an investigation from WBEZ’s Natalie Moore and the Better Government Association’s John Lippert. Their reporting found that “the company and its developers have won at least $741 million in taxpayer-funded incentives in northeast Illinois alone.”
A breakdown of those incentives found that mostly nonwhite communities paid more than white communities.
“Amazon collected less than $100 million in public incentives for the 15 warehouses it built in predominantly white communities but won more than $640 million in taxpayer incentives for the 21 projects built in communities with larger nonwhite populations,” according to a WBEZ/BGA analysis. “Many of those communities are either mostly Black, mostly Latinx or have higher concentrations of low-income residents, and with municipal budgets already short on cash.” [WBEZ]
Police videos of the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette could soon be released after his family views them, Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham recently announced in a statement. He did not say when exactly the videos would be released.
The news comes after the Waukegan police officer who shot and killed Stinnette was fired on Friday. As WBEZ’s María Inés Zamudio reports, the city’s police chief said the officer had been terminated for “multiple policy and procedure violations.”
Protesters have been calling for a federal investigation into the police killing that took place last week during a traffic stop. Stinnette’s girlfriend, Tafara Williams, was wounded in the shooting. Both she and Stinnette are Black, and neither was armed.
The Illinois State Police is investigating the shooting, as is common in suburban police shootings. A WBEZ/BGA investigation in 2018 found that the ISP’s investigations into such shootings almost never find the officer at fault. [WBEZ]
Here’s what else is happening
- A wildfire in Southern California has forced 60,000 people to evacuate. [AP]
- Some Chicago parents face a Wednesday deadline to decide whether their children will attend public schools in person. [Block Club Chicago]
- Chicago Transit Authority and Pace riders can now use their iPhones and Apple Watches to pay fares. [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Don’t forget to look up at the moon on Halloween. [Chicago Tribune]
Oh, and one more thing …
For Halloween, I’m still trying to figure out which version of the “I give up” costume I’m going to wear. I’m leaning toward: “My motivation for waking up is playing Final Fantasy video games and eating corn dogs while sitting on a bean bag chair.”
If you’re looking for better ideas for Halloween costumes, check out the winners of WBEZ’s virtual costume contest. They’re posted as an Instagram story on WBEZ’s page, and the winners are broken down into four categories: best kid costume, best group costume, best individual costume and best pet costume.
And after checking them out, you can vote for the overall winner. Send us your vote on Instagram after watching all the station’s story slides. [Instagram]
Tell me something good …
I saw the new movie adaptation of The Witches on HBO Max this weekend. Anne Hathaway plays the Grand High Witch, and that got me thinking: Who is one of your favorite fictional villains?
Mine has to be Tina Turner as Aunty Entity, the ruler of the dystopian Bartertown in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome who wears a chain-mail dress. One of my favorite scenes from the movie, aside from the reveal of Master Blaster, is when Aunty Entity tells Max about how she was a nobody before the apocalypse. Also, “We Don’t Need Another Hero.”
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