Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and President Joe Biden said there will be enough vaccines for every adult by the end of May. Here’s what you need to know today.
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Gov. JB Pritzker’s office today released information on how Illinois residents aged 65 and over can schedule appointments at the United Center mass vaccine site.
Registration begins on Thursday at 8:30 a.m., and you can make an appointment either on Zocdoc.com/vaccine or by calling 312-746-4835. The governor’s office says a limited number of vaccinations will take place on March 9 before the United Center’s full opening the next day. [WBEZ]
After Illinois seniors have been prioritized, people who are eligible in the state’s Phase 1B Plus can make appointments beginning March 7 at 4 p.m. You can learn more info about which phase you’re in by taking a short survey in the link. [WBEZ]
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office today announced that bars and restaurants can immediately increase indoor capacity to 50% or 50 people, whichever is fewer. And those establishments can stay open until 1 a.m. instead of closing at 11 p.m.
Indoor gym classes will also be expanded to 20 people, and liquor sales can continue until 11 p.m. [Sun-Times]
Meanwhile, early studies are raising questions about whether a virus variant that emerged in Brazil can reinfect people who already recovered from COVID-19.
The research has not been published in a scientific journal, and researchers say their findings only apply to the Brazilian city of Manaus, where the variant was first discovered. But scientists say it highlights the growing need to take the variant seriously. [Guardian]
In an effort to boost vaccine distribution, the White House has brokered a deal that allows drugmaker Merck to help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s recently authorized vaccine. [AP]
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray today highlighted the role of far-right extremism in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, saying “quite a number” of the 300 people arrested so far have connections to militias or white supremacists.
In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray said there is no evidence suggesting the involvement of antifa or fake Trump supporters in the attack. [NPR]
Wray warned lawmakers that domestic terrorism is “metastasizing across the country,” and the number of such cases have ballooned to about 2,000 after the Capitol attack. Wray said that’s more than double the number of cases since he became FBI director in 2017. [Washington Post]
President Joe Biden is expected to speak with Senate Democrats today as some moderates are seeking to change beefed up jobless benefits under the president’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
Some centralists want to lower enhanced weekly unemployment benefits from $400 to $300, while at the same time extending the deadline for when those benefits expire. Moderate Democrats also want to narrow the eligibility of $1,400 stimulus checks.
The discussion comes as the Senate could begin debating Biden’s plan as soon as tomorrow. It also comes as Senate Democrats, who have a razor thin majority, stare down a March 14 deadline, when jobless benefits will begin to expire for millions of Americans. [Politico]
The New York Times reports that a third woman, Anna Ruch, is accusing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of inappropriately touching her during a 2019 wedding reception.
Ruch told the newspaper that Cuomo placed his hand on her bare lower back after she thanked him for toasting the newlyweds. She said she removed his hand, and the governor then placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her. Ruch told the Times that Cuomo seemed “aggressive.” [NYT]
A small group of federal and local lawmakers are calling on Cuomo to resign. It remains to be seen if senior New York Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, move to dump Cuomo. [CNN]
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that 1 million Illinois students, including every kid enrolled in Chicago’s public schools, are set to receive food benefits under a federal program called the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer.
The newspaper reports that every CPS student is eligible regardless of citizenship status or income, and families with two or more children could receive more money. Eligible families will be mailed cards this month that will be loaded with $6.82 for each school day until December. [Sun-Times]
Here’s what else is happening
- The Biden administration announced sanctions on Russian officials over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. [NPR]
- Global CO2 emissions have returned to pre-pandemic levels. [Axios]
- Small hospitals on Chicago’s South and West sides face dire financial challenges, according to a new report. [WBEZ]
- Vernon Jordan, a civil rights leader and political power broker, died at the age of 85. [NPR]
Oh, and one more thing …
Cue up the Anchorman jokes because there’s some new animals at the Brookfield Zoo, which is now open.
First, there’s 5-year-old Hope the polar bear. And things are already getting steamy.
According to the Pioneer Press, “Hudson, Brookfield Zoo’s male polar bear, could be heard calling to Hope. The goal is for these two to mate, when they are ready.”
Then there’s the mother-daughter duo of Sibi and Lorena, who are Mexican gray wolves. They are at the Brookfield Zoo as part of a federal plan to restore the population of the wolves.
Tim Sullivan, curator of animal husbandry at the zoo, told the Pioneer Press that there were just seven Mexican gray wolves in the wild in the ’70s, but now there are 200. [Pioneer Press]
Tell me something good …
March is Women’s History Month, and I’d like to know who is among the women you look up to and why.
“The work of cryptanalyst Elizebeth Smith Friedman brings down Al Capone, breaks up a Nazi spy ring in South America and lays the foundation for the National Security Agency (NSA).
“Boggles the mind what this woman’s mind could ‘un-boggle.’ How brave she was in every aspect of her life.
“There are so many brilliant women we are slowly learning about — other code breakers, ceiling breakers, rule breakers — but what couldn’t be broken was their spirit.”
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