WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: How Long Can Illinois Avoid A New Lockdown?

Chicago covid-19
Cloud Gate, also know as “the bean,” was gated off to visitors on March 24, 2020 as coronavirus infections soared throughout Chicago. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Chicago covid-19
Cloud Gate, also know as “the bean,” was gated off to visitors on March 24, 2020 as coronavirus infections soared throughout Chicago. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: How Long Can Illinois Avoid A New Lockdown?

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Hey there! It’s Thursday, and I’m thinking of buying a Christmas tree for the first time in my adult life. Feel free to send me any tips. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Another 10,187 Illinois residents could die from COVID-19 by March

That’s according to a prominent virus model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The model projects the number of daily deaths could peak in early December, and then slowly decrease. By March 1, the state’s projected COVID-19 death toll would surpass 21,000 since the pandemic began.

The institute, which last updated its model on Nov. 12, also estimates that more than 19,000 new infections occurred today in Illinois. That number is significantly higher than the official case count, which is based only on people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. [IHME]

Today, Illinois officials reported 168 new deaths and 14,612 new cases. The state is seeing a rolling, seven-day average of 11,855 cases per day, up 65% from the average two weeks ago. [WBEZ]

Nationally, the Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation projects that more than 3 million people in the U.S. are infected and potentially contagious.

“When do you want to hit the brakes? That’s the question,” said IHME epidemiologist Ali Mokdad, who is among the health experts urging governments and the public to take action. “When you have a fire, you send the firetruck. You don’t wait and say, ‘Okay, let me wait a little bit, maybe that fire isn’t going to spread that much.’ … We already moved into exponential growth. Just hit the brakes as soon as you can.”

The U.S. passed a grim milestone this week: More than a quarter of a million people have died from COVID-19 so far. That’s roughly in line with what the institute had expected. [Washington Post]

In Illinois, demand for testing is skyrocketing, but access to tests is unequal. For example, residents of majority-Black and majority-Latino ZIP codes in Chicago are getting tested at far lower rates than their counterparts in other areas of the city, according to a WBEZ analysis. [WBEZ]

2. Don’t travel this Thanksgiving, the CDC says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today strongly advised against traveling for Thanksgiving and urged Americans to reconsider plans with people outside of their households.

“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members from coming to this family gathering and they could end up severely ill, hospitalized or dying. And we don’t want that to happen,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager. “These times are tough, it’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months, and we understand people are tired.” [USA Today]

That scenario recently played out in Chicago: A family gathering of 21 people in Chicago on Halloween resulted in six people contracting COVID-19. [WBEZ]

3. U.S. jobless claims increased for first time since early October

New claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to 742,000, up from 711,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said today.

The figures offer yet another troubling sign for the U.S. economy as coronavirus infections skyrocket to record levels. Many economists are warning that layoffs could accelerate this winter, and Congress needs to provide more federal relief in order to prevent the country’s nascent economic recovery from collapsing.

About 20 million Americans are now receiving some sort of unemployment benefit, and about half will lose that aid by the end of the year.

And consumer confidence, a critical pillar for a healthy economy, appears to be deteriorating as more Americans pull back on shopping. “Spending on 30 million credit and debit cards tracked by JPMorgan Chase fell 7.4% earlier this month compared with a year ago,” report The Associated Press. [AP]

4. Can Michael Madigan retain his grip on political power?

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is facing further calls today from within the Democratic Party to step aside as leader after federal authorities filed new bombshell indictments surrounding its investigation into ComEd’s lobbying efforts. [WBEZ]

Federal prosecutors last night filed criminal charges against four former ComEd executives and lobbyists. They include the power company’s former chief executive, Anne Pramaggiore, and Michael McClain — a ComEd lobbyist from Quincy, Ill., who is a close confidante of Madigan.

As WBEZ reports, “Wednesday’s indictment provided the strongest suggestion yet that Madigan was directly involved in pushing ComEd to hire people connected to him. Without mentioning him by name, prosecutors described the alleged role of ‘Public Official A’ — a reference to Madigan made clear elsewhere in the document and in past filings in the investigation.”

Madigan has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.

“If there was credible evidence that I had engaged in criminal misconduct, which I most certainly did not, I would be charged with a crime,” Madigan said in a statement today. [WBEZ]

5. Chicago faces a federal lawsuit alleging police brutality from summer protests

Sixty people are suing the city of Chicago, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown and 20 individual officers for alleged acts of brutality and misconduct during this summer’s protests, reports WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.

Among the plaintiffs is Veronica Rodriguez, who says an officer hit her on the head with a baton, causing a “gaping, bleeding cut in her head” that required emergency medical treatment, according to a new court filing.

The 203-page complaint outlines dozens of instances of alleged abuse at protests throughout the summer, and it says officers “regularly referred to protesters with terms that are vile, misogynistic, and anti-gay.”

A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department said officials had not reviewed the complaint, but she said “these are allegations at this stage and not proof.” [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Republicans are increasingly and privately accepting the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. [AP]
  • Here’s a look at the dangers of delaying the presidential transition. [NPR]
  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $12.8 billion budget passed another critical test, setting the stage for a final vote next week. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Wrigley Field received federal landmark status today, seven years after applying. [ESPN]

Oh, and one more thing …

Thank the gay agenda: Wonder Woman 1984 will be available on HBO Max on Dec. 25. The superhero movie starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig will be available on the streaming service for a month at no extra cost to subscribers. [CNN]

In the “before times,” I saw the first Wonder Woman movie at the New 400 movie theater in Rogers Park, and almost the entire audience was LGBTQ. I was really looking forward to witnessing an indoor Pride Parade for the new movie, but I’ll settle for streaming it from home.

Tell me something good …

What’s one of your most prized possessions?

Sue writes:

“One of my prized possessions is a photograph taken in 1945 of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. That was the first year my dad played viola there. He was a member of the CSO for 43 more years!!!! Of course, he’s in the picture!”

And Nora writes:

“Just graduated college and moved back in with my parents. My most prized possession is a combo. My dogs’ leashes because I walk them every night to literally get away from my family. It’s a win win. They go on a walk and I get to drink a white claw outside of my bedroom. For family purposes, I’m kidding …”

What’s one of your prized possessions? Feel free to email at therundown@wbez.org or tweet to @whuntah.

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