3K more residents infected, but 63K more vaccinated against coronavirus across Illinois
Public health officials on Saturday announced another high vaccination day for Illinois as the state logged 3,062 new cases of COVID-19 and 60 more deaths attributed to it.
Just over 63,000 shots went into arms Friday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the third highest number of doses administered in a day with the state almost two months into an unprecedented vaccination campaign.
Nearly 1.3 million shots have been doled out in all, but only about 285,000 people have received both required doses so far — not even 2.3% of the population. Officials are aiming to immunize at least 80% of the state’s 12.7 million residents.
But the effort has gained steam over the past two weeks as about 3.2 million eligible residents continue scrambling to lock up vaccination appointments. The state’s rolling average of doses administered per day is now up to 49,909.
Read the full update from Mitchell Armentrout here.
2:47 p.m. CPS plans to lock out some teachers who don’t show Monday, putting CTU on verge of strike once again
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools officials say they will lock out preschool teachers and staff who work with disabled children from remote work if they don’t return to schools Monday, reigniting the potential for the city’s second teachers strike in 15 months.
If the mayor and school district follow through with a threat they’ve made then backed off from several times the past two weeks, a Chicago Teachers Union walkout would likely be triggered, plunging the school system into deeper turmoil during a pandemic that has upended education for the past year.
“Despite making significant compromises in an effort to reach a deal with CTU leadership, we still do not have an agreement,” the mayor and schools chief Janice Jackson wrote in an email to staff early Friday evening. “We have the power to make sure this virus does not further disrupt the growth and progress of all our students. We hope a resolution is near, and we thank you for your patience and support.”
The email was sent as a virtual meeting of thousands of CTU members took place, during which union president Jesse Sharkey said no one should report to schools Monday unless there is a full agreement between the union and CPS.
Nader Issa and Sophie Sherry have the full story here.
8:27 a.m. President Biden’s dilemma in coronavirus aid fight: Go big or go bipartisan
President Joe Biden’s push for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is forcing an internal reckoning that pits his instincts to work toward a bipartisan deal against the demands of an urgent crisis and his desire to deliver for those who helped elect him.
His bipartisan bona fides have been a defining feature of his political career, first as a Senate deal-maker, later as he led legislative negotiations for the Obama administration when vice president and finally during his successful 2020 campaign.
But the scope of the multiple crises confronting the nation now, along with the lessons Democrats learned from four years of Republican obstructionism during Barack Obama presidency, seem to be pushing Biden toward quick action on the coronavirus aid bill, even if Republicans get left behind.
“I have told both Republicans and Democrats that’s my preference: to work together. But if I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation or compromising on a bill that’s up to the crisis, that’s an easy choice,” Biden said Friday. “I’m going to help the American people who are hurting now.”
Read the full story here.
7 a.m. Federal executions likely a COVID superspreader: AP analysis
As the Trump administration was nearing the end of an unprecedented string of executions, 70% of death row inmates were sick with COVID-19. Guards were ill. Traveling prisons staff on the execution team had the virus. So did media witnesses, who may have unknowingly infected others when they returned home because they were never told about the spreading cases.
Records obtained by The Associated Press show employees at the Indiana prison complex where the 13 executions were carried out over six months had contact with inmates and other people infected with the coronavirus, but were able to refuse testing and declined to participate in contact tracing efforts and were still permitted to return to their work assignments.
Other staff members, including those brought in to help with executions, also spread tips to their colleagues about how they could avoid quarantines and skirt public health guidance from the federal government and Indiana health officials.
Read the full story here.
Analysis & Commentary
8 a.m. Making a list, getting ready to make up for lost time, which can’t come soon enough
There’s an Italian restaurant we like on Ogden Avenue in Clarendon Hills called ZaZa’s. It’s nothing fancy, just good food.
Even in normal times, we don’t get to ZaZa’s often because it’s quite a hike from where we live now in the city. With the virus, it’s been at least a year since we’ve eaten there.
One of ZaZa’s specialties is something they call Pesce Bianco al Spinaci, which the menu describes as “whitefish roasted with extra virgin olive oil, capers, lemon and white wine, served with a side of fire-roasted spinach.”
It’s soooo good. The fish. The sauce. I can’t stop thinking about it lately.
I’ve pretty much decided to put it at the top of The List.
You know, The List — all the things you want to do when this is finally over.
Surely, you have one by now, if only in your head.
At this point, it’s not so much a matter of whether you’re thinking about what you’re going to do when the pandemic winds down as whether you can think about anything else. That can be a problem, of course, because, even with the vaccines, we’ve still got a long ways to go.
Read the full column from Mark Brown here.