WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Paid Time Off For Getting Vaccinated?

Vaccines in Chicago
Register Nurse and Infectious Control Specialist Sarah Czechowicz administers the first COVID-19 vaccine at Elmhurst Hospital to Edward Sulita a Transporter at the Hospital on December 12, 2020. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Vaccines in Chicago
Register Nurse and Infectious Control Specialist Sarah Czechowicz administers the first COVID-19 vaccine at Elmhurst Hospital to Edward Sulita a Transporter at the Hospital on December 12, 2020. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Paid Time Off For Getting Vaccinated?

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Hi! It’s Monday, and my husband is excited to use his snow shovel again. (Let’s see if he’s still excited three days from now.) Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Millions can now get vaccinated in Illinois but how?

Almost 2 million Illinois residents over the age of 65 are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as the state today started the next phase of inoculations. More than 1 million essential workers — including those who work in grocery stores, manufacturing and schools — are also eligible. But how to distribute the shots is another headache for employers.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, “Some large companies, such as Amazon and Aldi, are preparing to offer vaccinations at their workplaces, while others have announced incentives or extra paid time off for employees to get the shots.”

The large number of people now eligible for the shots puts the burden of verifying who is an essential worker on strapped local public health departments. [Chicago Tribune]

New data released today by Chicago estimates that half of the residents who have gotten coronavirus vaccines are white, 14% are Asian, 15% are Black and 17% are Latino. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, Moderna said today its vaccine will still work against the new COVID-19 variants, but the company is also testing a new booster shot specifically aimed at the South African variant. [Reuters]

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate dropped to 4.7%, the lowest since Oct. 14. State officials today announced 2,944 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 49 deaths. [WBEZ]

2. Biden reverses ban on transgender members of the military, expands COVID-19 travel ban

President Joe Biden today signed an executive order overturning a Trump administration policy that largely banned transgender people from serving in the military. The change immediately prohibits any service member from being forced out on the basis of gender identity.

The order also says the departments of Defense and Homeland Security must reexamine records of military personnel who were discharged or denied enlistments because of their gender identity. The departments have 60 days to submit a report of their progress. [AP]

Biden also signed an order that bans most non-U.S. citizens who recently visited South Africa from entering the country. The move is an attempt to slow the spread of a new variant found in South Africa. A ban against travelers from Brazil, the U.K., Ireland and 26 other European countries will remain in effect. [Reuters]

The Biden administration also today called for Russia to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny and thousands of demonstrators who have protested on his behalf. [Forbes]

3. House to deliver article of impeachment to Senate

House prosecutors are expected to deliver an article of impeachment to the Senate around 6 p.m. CT. A Senate trial on whether former President Donald Trump incited the riot at the U.S. Capitol could start the week of Feb. 8.

Sound familiar? Members of the House made the same walk almost exactly a year ago.

This time Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is expected to preside over the trial. Senators serving as the jury could be sworn in tomorrow. The two-week delay will allow the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team to prepare their arguments.

The Senate is expected to continue confirming President Biden’s Cabinet nominees and work on another COVID-19 relief bill over the next two weeks. [AP]

Meanwhile, federal law enforcement officials are looking into a number of threats made against members of Congress ahead of the trial. [AP]

4. Survey finds consumer spending is expected to rebound

A survey released today by the New York Federal Reserve shows Americans are spending more as businesses reopen.

And consumers said they think they’ll be able to spend even more in a year, including on nonessential purchases like entertainment and travel. That’s good news because consumer spending is a key indicator of the economy.

The report also found the share of households that made at least one large purchase in the last four months rose to 54.6% in December, up from a low in April but below a pre-pandemic 62.5%. [Reuters]

And another analysis shows that stay-at-home orders did not cause mass job loss, according to research by economists with Indiana University. The study found that people were already staying home because of the coronavirus, and therefore the orders had little impact on jobs. [Washington Post]

In Chicago, restrictions on indoor dining were lifted this weekend. But some restaurants are sticking to takeout. [WBEZ]

5. Get ready for “24 hours of snow” in Chicago

Get your snow boots out because the Chicago area could see its biggest snowstorm in more than two years.

Meteorologists are predicting up to 8 inches of snow starting at 4 p.m., with gusts of wind up to 40 mph and freezing temperatures. South of Interstate 88, the winter storm could bring freezing rain and sleet, adding to the accumulation in that region.

“It looks like 24 hours of snow, basically,” said meteorologist Matt Friedlein, adding that there’s a winter storm warning through 5 p.m. tomorrow. He recommends if you’re venturing out, pack an emergency kit. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Winter storms are expected to affect 60 million people across 23 states this week. [NBC]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Two brothers describe allegations of sexual abuse by the Rev. Michael Pfleger. [Chicago Tribune]

  • Voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems Inc. is suing Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, for defamation. [Reuters]

  • Here’s a look at the obscure corporate body that could allow Trump back on Facebook. [New York Times]

  • Vaccinations for teachers could ease school reopening tensions, but inoculation is uneven. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

It’s been 13,140,000 minutes — or 25 years — since the first performance of Rent, which explores AIDS, poverty, race and gentrification in late ’80s New York City.

In this look back at the first performance, NPR’s Jeff Lunden writes that before the rock musical became an international phenomenon — winning numerous awards including a Pulitzer and a Tony — it opened in an off-Broadway theater in the East Village.

When the playwright died suddenly on opening night, the director decided to do a sit-down reading instead. “Because there were so many emotions involved, by the time we got to ‘La Vie Boheme,’ you know, it completely erupted into a whole full-out staged performance,” one cast member remembers.

“There was an incredible mixture of life, matching art, matching life. The distance between what we were experiencing ourselves, and as the characters was, like, tissue-paper thin.” [NPR]

Tell me something good …

My dad has informed me the Super Bowl is right around the corner. (Go Chiefs!) I plan to mostly watch the ads and eat guacamole, which has me wondering: Do you have a favorite commercial?

This Snickers’ ad featuring Betty White from 2010 still cracks me up. She has such a way with one-liners.

How about you? Do you have a past favorite Super Bowl commercial?

Feel free to email or tweet me, and your response might appear here this week.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! We’ll see you tomorrow.