WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Lightfoot Drops Opposition To Pritzker’s Order

Lightfoot and Pritzker
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, speaks after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a news conference Friday, March 20, 2020, in Chicago. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo
Lightfoot and Pritzker
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, speaks after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a news conference Friday, March 20, 2020, in Chicago. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Lightfoot Drops Opposition To Pritzker’s Order

Hey there! It’s Wednesday, and I’d buy a car just to go through a “haunted car wash,” but used car prices are “through the roof.” Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Pritzker says Chicago restrictions are moving forward despite objections from Lightfoot

Gov. JB Pritzker today said that tougher coronavirus restrictions on Chicago restaurants and bars will go ahead as planned on Friday, and he announced more areas of the state will also soon face similar measures.

The governor’s remarks came after Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared on PBS last night and said she is trying to change Pritzker’s mind.

“If the governor’s order goes into effect, it’s really effectively shutting down a significant portion of our economy at a time when those same businesses are really hanging on by a thread,” Lightfoot said on the PBS NewsHour. [WBEZ]

The mayor’s comments were astonishing, partly because Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner for Chicago’s Department of Public Health, had earlier on Tuesday said she would welcome any state restrictions as the city faces a surge in coronavirus cases.

Lightfoot today said she had a “very frank but constructive” hourlong meeting with the governor today, and she will continue working with him. She said she had no plans to mount a legal challenge to his order.

Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist at the University of Chicago who has advised the state on COVID-19, told me last night that Illinois is seeing an “alarming” increase in the spread of the virus and officials are running out of time to prevent another stay-at-home order.

“If we don’t take massive steps now to slow transmission, a stay-at-home order might become the only remaining option to avoid overwhelming healthcare capacity. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that,” Cobey said.

Illinois officials today reported more than 6,000 new cases and 51 deaths. The state is seeing a weekly average of 4,705 cases per day, an increase of 63% compared to the average two weeks ago.

In Chicago, the weekly average is 818 cases per day, up 34% from the previous week. [WBEZ]

2. Biden holds the lead in two crucial Midwest states

Two polls out today show Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a narrow lead over President Donald Trump in Michigan and a significant advantage in Wisconsin.

In Michigan, 51% of likely voters back Biden while 44% support Trump, according to a poll from ABC News and The Washington Post. Another poll from the two media outlets found that Biden leads Trump in Wisconsin by 57% to 40%.

Digging into the numbers, the poll found that women are helping boost Biden’s campaign in both states, and concerns about the coronavirus may be hampering Trump’s chances, especially in Wisconsin, which faces a severe outbreak. [Washington Post]

As Election Day nears, here’s an easy-to-read guide on what U.S. officials know about foreign interference and what strategies are being used in attempts to sow confusion. [NPR]

Meanwhile, the nation’s voting system may seem strange (see: Electoral College). Nerdette host Greta Johnsen recently talked to Erin Geiger Smith, author of the new book Thank You For Voting, about how we got here and how we move forward. [WBEZ]

And Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, today said he is the anonymous author of a 2018 op-ed in The New York Times that described a “resistance” within the Trump administration. [Axios]

3. More troubling signs emerge for the economy

Markets around the world slid today as governments weighed more business restrictions in response to the recent surge in coronavirus cases.

In France and Germany, officials announced new shutdowns as their efforts to contain the virus through localized, targeted ways appear to have failed. Cases are also rising throughout the U.S., especially in the Midwest, causing investors on Wall Street to worry about the return of more severe restrictions. [AP]

Those growing outbreaks come as many economists — across the ideological spectrum — have warned for weeks that the U.S. economic recovery could be in jeopardy unless Congress and the White House can reach a deal on a new rescue package. Talks have hit a brick wall on a number of issues between the White House, House Democrats and Senate Republicans. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that more aid would not be approved before the election. [NBC News]

Consumer optimism, a key pillar for a healthy economy, is declining in the U.S., according to a batch of new reports.

“It’s time to acknowledge the new reality: Economic growth in October in the United States has ground to a standstill,” said John Leer, an economist for research company Morning Consult. [Axios]

Meanwhile, Chicago-based Boeing announced today that it will cut even more jobs. The company said it plans on ending the year with about 130,000 employees, down 30,000 at the beginning of the year. [Chicago Tribune]

4. Barrett faces motion to recuse herself from election case

Justice Amy Coney Barrett hasn’t been on the bench for even a week, and she is already the subject of an unusual motion seeking her recusal on a case regarding election procedures in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

The motion was filed by the Luzerne County Board of Elections, where Republicans are asking the Supreme Court to consider whether mail-in ballots should be counted if received three days after the election, even if they were postmarked by Election Day.

The board of elections argues Barrett should recuse herself partly because President Trump said her nomination to the nation’s high court would boost his reelection. [NPR]

Meanwhile, Democrats are alarmed by a recent opinion by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying it bolsters Trump’s unsupported claim that results reported after Election Day could be fraudulent. [New York Times]

5. Tech CEOs are grilled before Senate panel

The leaders of Facebook, Google and Twitter today appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation as lawmakers are questioning federal liability protections granted for websites related to content created by users.

But many senators on the committee focused on an array of other issues. Several Republicans used the opportunity to once again accuse the companies of harboring an anti-conservative bias.

“Who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear?” Sen. Ted Cruz asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Democrats, meanwhile, took a different approach and focused on how disinformation and extremism spreads through social media, and they accused the companies of not doing enough to clamp down on misinformation that interferes in the election. [Politico]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Here’s a look at how President Trump avoided paying taxes and evaded huge debts tied to Chicago’s Trump Tower. [New York Times]
  • As officials at Chicago Public Schools push to send special education students back into classrooms, some families say remote learning works. [WBEZ]
  • The public can weigh in on a case that could decide the fate of Scabby, the Chicago-born, giant, inflatable protest rat. [Chicago Tribune]
  • Illinois has the most expensive marijuana in the U.S., according to industry analysts. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

We’re just days away from Halloween, and when’s a better time to watch scary movies? Nerdette Recaps with Peter Sagal is out with a new episode today, and the crew reviews The Blair Witch Project.

Listen to Greta Johnsen, Tricia Bobeda and Peter Sagal try to figure out if this blockbuster hit is genius, boring or nausea-inducing. [WBEZ]

And the Nerdette team wants to hear from you about the movies they’re watching! All you have to do is record yourself on your phone and send the audio file to nerdetterecaps@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, why does fake blood look so weird in old movies? According to The Ringer, “the longer answer involves a tug-of-war between an effects genius willing to give away his secrets to kids and the chemical innovations of a Midwestern corporation hired by the film industry to save time and money on stains.” [Ringer]

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?

Dylan Connor writes:

“My wife and I rewatched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest recently, and we were amazed by the subtle insidiousness of Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched. We’re now watching the prequel series on Netflix, Ratched, and Sarah Paulson is dazzling us with her compelling and campy take on the character. We’re rooting for her, despite her villainy!”

And Andrew writes:

“The scariest villain from my childhood was the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The hairs on the back of my neck still stand up when I watch the movie even now as an adult. I know he’s a fictional villain, and in reality he wasn’t really doing anything that evil on screen except luring children to capture them, but he still manages to give me the heebie-jeebies.”

Who is one of your favorite fictional villains? Feel free to email at therundown@wbez.org or tweet to @whuntah.

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