WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Illinois Loses A Congressional Seat

census letter
This March 19, 2020, file photo, shows a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. Matt Rourke / Associated Press
census letter
This March 19, 2020, file photo, shows a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. Matt Rourke / Associated Press

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Illinois Loses A Congressional Seat

Hey there! It’s Monday, and also my first day writing this newsletter, so please be nice because I’ll be here all week. Here’s what you need to know today.

(By the way, if you’d like this emailed to your inbox, you can sign up here.)

1. Illinois will lose one seat in Congress based on 2020 census results

Illinois will lose one seat in the House of Representatives based on population shifts in the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. The loss continues a 50-year decline in the size of the state’s congressional delegation.

So what happens next? Likely a battle over redistricting, as state legislatures redraw their congressional district maps to correct for their new allotment of seats. In Illinois, Democrats control both the state House and Senate, giving them an advantage when it comes to creating favorable districts. [WBEZ]

The other states losing seats include California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Texas gained two seats, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each picked up one. [NPR]

Wondering what other ramifications the census results could have on your life? Check out this explainer WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang put together last spring. [WBEZ]

2. 75% of Americans would not take Johnson & Johnson vaccine, poll finds

Fewer than half of Americans say they believe the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is very or somewhat safe — and nearly 3 in 4 not yet vaccinated say they would be unwilling to take it, according to a poll released today by the Washington Post and ABC News.

The drop in confidence comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Drug Administration recommended pausing the use of the vaccine earlier this month due to six cases of extremely rare blood clots. However, the poll was conducted before federal health authorities lifted the recommended pause on Friday. [Washington Post]

In other vaccine news, 45% of eligible Illinois residents have gotten one dose and about 29% of the eligible population is now fully vaccinated. [NYT]

Despite the progress in vaccinations, the virus is still spreading throughout the state. Public health officials today reported 2,137 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, the White House announced today it will share its stock of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries once the shots are authorized by the FDA. [AP]

And the European Union is suing the makers of the AstraZeneca shot for breach of contract, pointing to slow delivery of doses. [AP]

3. How has Biden fared on key promises 100 days into office? It’s complicated

This Thursday marks President Joe Biden’s 100th day in office, a milestone informally used to judge a president’s performance on campaign promises.

How’s he doing? While Biden can check the COVID-19 goals off of his Oval Office to-do list, he hasn’t fared nearly as well in achieving his goals on the economy, racial equity and most notably immigration.

Here’s a handy list from NPR that evaluates Biden on fulfilling key promises like reversing Trump’s corporate tax cuts, extending the Voting Rights Act and increasing supervision over border and immigration agencies. [NPR].

And mark your calendar: Biden will make his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. You can listen live on 91.5 FM starting at 8 p.m. CT.

4. Chicago continues to fail at enforcing fire prevention rules, investigation finds

A new Chicago Tribune/Better Government Association analysis found city officials have failed to uphold promises to enforce fire safety standards and crack down on problem landlords.

Two ordinances meant to protect tenants — one that created a list of bad landlords and another that fined landlords for smoke detector violations — have been routinely ignored, the investigation finds. Unlike many other major cities, which have routine building inspections, Chicago’s complaint-based system puts the onus to file complaints on tenants.

Between 2014 and 2019, 61 people were killed by fires in buildings where the city knew of unsafe conditions but didn’t address them, the investigation finds. The deaths were mainly in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods.

“Chicago has a system set for going through the motions and basically failing,” said Douglas Pensack, a former associate director of the Illinois Tenants Union. “The building code is pretty strict, but it is poorly enforced and there is great bifurcation in the way it is enforced.” [Chicago Tribune]

5. Oscars embrace diversity in more ways than one

It was a night of firsts at the 2021 Oscars.

Nomandland’s Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color — and second woman ever — to win the Oscar for best director; Minari’s Yuh-jung Youn became the first Korean woman to win best supporting actress; and Mia Neal (a Gary native!) and Jamika Wilson, who worked on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, became the first Black women to win the award for best makeup and hairstyling.

“Beyond the winners list, however, this year’s Academy Awards spent considerable time putting the faces and concerns of people of color, especially Black Americans, front and center,” the magazine reports. “The pre-show was hosted by Ariana DeBose — who plays Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story — and Get Out and Judas and the Black Messiah co-star Lil Rel Howery, and the telecast opened with Regina King walking through Los Angeles’ Union Station to rousing music spun by the evening’s DJ, Questlove.” [Variety]

How did the awards show progress past #OscarsSoWhite to its most diverse year yet? Hollywood is hiring more women and people of color, according to a new UCLA study. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A new Illinois law will cap payday loan interest rates in the state, but it could have unintended consequences for communities of color. [WBEZ]

  • The Supreme Court will hear an appeal in a New York case over the right to carry guns in public for self-defense. [AP]

  • The Department of Justice is launching an investigation into the Louisville Police Department in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death. [BuzzFeed]

  • Fifty Joshes competed in a pool noodle battle in Lincoln, Neb., this weekend in a quest to be named the ultimate Josh. [NYT]

Oh, and one more thing …

As graduation season approaches, WBEZ’s education team is highlighting voices from the class of 2021 — and they’re looking for help from four high school seniors. If selected to be a part of the project, students will partner with a reporter or editor to produce a short radio story that will air on 91.5 FM in late May or June.

Know someone who might want to participate? Here’s how to apply. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

Next Monday marks the 50th anniversary of NPR’s All Things Considered. To celebrate, I want to know: What’s your favorite NPR memory?

For me, a former high school orchestra nerd, it’s watching Yo-Yo Ma perform a Tiny Desk concert as a summer intern.

What’s an NPR moment that sticks out to you? Feel free to email or tweet us, and we might share your responses here this week.

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