Good Thursday morning, Illinois. If you watch tonight’s dueling town halls on two screens like I am, it’s likely to sound like the first debate.
Illinois reported nearly 2,900 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, the highest rate since some of the worst days of the pandemic in May. Even more sobering: the overall death toll in the state has surpassed 9,000.
“We’re still doing better than many of our neighbors, but we can’t let up,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a press conference addressing the pandemic and looking ahead to the holidays.
“There is no free pass in this season of giving when it comes to Covid-19. When confronted with decisions about the upcoming holiday season, many people who have erred on the side of caution might face new temptation to let their guard down, but let me be blunt. This virus isn’t taking a holiday,” Pritzker said.
Illinois’ positivity rates continue to rise throughout the state. But travelers from Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin are all on Chicago’s self-quarantine list because they are each seeing more than 15 new daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. Wisconsin’s cases are so high that the state has built a field hospital to make sure there are enough beds for sick patients.
The new wave of infections come as President Donald Trump’s boasts about having a coronavirus vaccine conveniently ready before Election Day are being further undercut.
Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson hit the pause buttons on their coronavirus vaccine trials this week. And though there’s been an increase in the number of contact tracers, whose work helps monitor and tamp the spread of the virus, experts worry there still aren’t enough to keep up with the rising number of Covid cases, according to NPR.
The Trump administration is making a big pivot, suggesting “herd immunity” will get the virus under control by allowing more people get infected assuming they build up an immunity that eventually slows the spread of Covid-19. The World Health Organization has dismissed that idea as unethical and it’s still unclear whether how much immunity individuals get after contracting the disease.
In our little house, like many across Illinois, the talk is about how to spend the holidays. We’re thinking about hurling candy down a chute to trick-or-treaters. But the more serious question is how to handle holiday gatherings in November and December.
Pritzker and Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike recommend approaching this year’s holidays with creativity — and a mask. “The safest way to celebrate with the members of your household is to connect with people outside of your household virtually, but I know, we all know, that many people will be gathering and getting together with family and friends,” Ezike said Wednesday. “We have to get used to the idea of even in our home, wearing masks, as unnatural as that may feel."
Richard Uihlein has donated another $250,000 to Citizens for Judicial Fairness, the group trying to stop Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride from being retained. (Ken Griffin recently gave $2 million to this group.) Uihlein, the Lake Forest businessman who owns the Uline packing materials company, donated $250,000 to the anti-Kilbride campaign back in September, too.
With Democrats continuing their stronghold in Illinois, Uihlein may see a sliver of hope in changing the make-up of the state Supreme Court. If Kilbride, a Democrat, were to exit, and the court were to get a more conservative judge in his place, then maybe Republicans could make inroads in how redistricting is decided (because it always ends up in the courts).
RELATED: Former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, a Republican who endorsed Hillary Clinton, is endorsing Kilbride. In a statement, Webb called Kilbride’s credentials “unquestioned” and he criticized “special interest groups running political campaigns targeting” the justice. “To ensure that we all remain confident in the fairness of our courts, it is important that we are confident in the independence of our judiciary. Judges should work to follow the law regardless of the special interests of any group and without consideration of political consequence,” Webb said.
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No official public events.
No official public events.
Giving a virtual budget address for 2021 at 10 a.m. Watch live
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 49 new deaths Wednesday and 2,862 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease. That’s a total of 9,074 deaths and 327,605 cases in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 7 through 13 is 4.6 percent. Chicago’s positivity rate is at 4.5 percent.
— Judge weighing dismissal of Covid-19 lawsuits: “A circuit court judge in Springfield is now weighing whether to dismiss lawsuits by Republican Rep. Darren Bailey and others challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s use of emergency powers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bailey [argues] that Pritzker overstepped his authority by issuing successive 30-day disaster declarations and then using the emergency powers granted him under the state’s Emergency Management Act to order the closure of certain businesses, schools and public gatherings.” The AG’s office says all the suits should be dismissed, reports Capitol News’ Peter Hancock.
— A special high-dose flu shot for seniors is in limited supply in Illinois: “A high-dose flu shot designed for people 65 years of age and older is in limited supply in Illinois. Some pharmacies and doctor’s offices still have enough of the special vaccine, but those that don’t blame shipping delays from a manufacturer, as well as increased demand for the vaccine amid Covid-19,” writes Tribune’s Lisa Schencker.
— As virus hits rural U.S., numbers may be small, but the impact is not: “In Illinois, cases are rising around Chicago, but the per capita figures are much worse around the far-smaller cities of Rockford and Decatur, as well as in rural counties in the state’s south,” by the New York Times.
— Melania Trump says Barron had coronavirus, too: “In a blog post about her experience recovering from Covid-19, the first lady said that her first thought when she received her diagnosis was her son,” by POLITICO’s Caitlin Oprysko.
— ‘He’s getting a bit desperate’: Trump tramples government boundaries as election nears: “As his fundraising has slipped, Trump has upped his use of federal resources to compensate,” by POLITICO’s Natasha Korecki and Anita Kumar.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Joe Biden officially endorses Democrat Marie Newman for Congress in Illinois’ 3rd District today. In a statement, Biden said Newman “will do everything she can do to help people in her community, and across our country, get back on their feet. She is committed to creating good paying jobs, protecting and expanding access to healthcare, and fighting for the hard working families of Illinois’ Third District.”
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Congresswoman Lauren Underwood is out with a new campaign ad today. The 30-second spot, “Darcy,” highlights the story of a girl with Type One Diabetes. Underwood says the rising costs of insulin prompted her to write the Lower Insulin Costs Now Act that was signed into law by President Trump last year.
— Billionaires who oppose Trump: Another cousin of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s is making news for his political donations. According to Forbes, John Pritzker has given $100,000 to the Lincoln Project, a group founded by Republicans who oppose Trump. John Pritzker lives in California but is tied to Chicago — his mom lives here and he’s behind the revamped Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. Computer Discount Warehouse founder Michael Krasny, has given $10,000 to the Lincoln Project. Forbes says at least 15 billionaires have donated to the super-PAC.
— WGN/9’s Tahman Bradley breaks down the graduated income tax and what it means to Illinois voters. It’s all about trust, experts say.
— With longtime home in Springfield, why does candidate’s father vote, get elected delegate from Taylorville? By the State Journal-Register’s Bernard Schoenburg. “Martin Davis, father of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, has had a home on Springfield’s west side since 1994, voted from there for decades and takes a homestead exemption on the property. But that home is in the 18th Congressional District — not his son’s 13th Congressional District.”
— Griffin gives big…in Maine: “Kenneth Griffin of Citadel and Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone Group Inc. have written big checks to help Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine in her tough battle for re-election. The two billionaires each gave $500,000 to the 1820 PAC in the third quarter, according to its latest filing,” by Bloomberg.
ELECTIONLAND: POLITICO is partnering with Electionland, a ProPublica project that works with newsrooms to track voting issues around the country. The Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. We’re part of a coalition of newsrooms around the country that are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more. Tell us here if you’re having trouble voting.
— Five police officers face suspension for covering up for former top cop Eddie Johnson: “The harshest penalty — a 28-day suspension — goes to Cmdr. Don Jerome, whose Deering District covers the 3400 block of South Aberdeen, where Johnson was found slumped in his police SUV around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2019,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman and Sam Charles.
— Police announce changes to use of force policies, drawing early criticism: “The five changes to the department’s use of force policies, which reform advocates have criticized as too permissive, appear to be largely symbolic and generally focus on broad philosophical language, rather than technical rules governing officers’ conduct. For example, the department plans to change the name of the main use of force policy to include the words “de-escalation” and ‘self-restraint,’” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner and Dan Hinkel.
— Chicago is weighing whether to reopen schools. Can it move forward without the consent of its teachers?: “Chicago schools officials have met regularly with the Chicago Teachers Union representatives, but they haven’t agreed on a road map or even on the need for one,” by Chalkbeat Chicago’s Yana Kunichoff and Mila Koumpilova.
— City asks injured man to help them prove Chicago cop shot him: “After nearly a decade of insisting Michael LaPorta shot himself with a Chicago police officer’s gun, the city now wanted LaPorta’s help in proving the patrolman actually pulled the trigger in January 2010 and lied about it for years,” by Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair
— CPD largely ignores community recommendations on when officers can shoot, taze or use other force: “The Chicago Police Department is accepting five proposed changes to its use of force policies, out of a total of 155 changes recommended by a community working group that met weekly for months to help update the department’s rules on when and how officers can shoot their guns, deploy tasers or use their batons,” writes WBEZ’s Patrick Smith.
— Women’s March Chicago to host ‘Zoom to the Polls’ on Saturday: It’s one of hundreds of events across the country to encourage voting, by Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos.
Hillary Clinton will headline Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s “Women’s Spotlight Luncheon,” which benefits Light PAC, the mayor’s political organization. The Dec. 8 event will be virtual and will have Clinton and Lightfoot in conversation. Details here
Where do the politics of police reform go from here? In a roundtable discussion organized by POLITICO magazine and moderated by POLITICO States Editor Darius Dixon, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul addresses police reform in urban vs. rural settings. “While many of the occurrences that have led to broader conversation have occurred in some of the bigger cities, it can and does occur in rural cities and conservative cities, as well — probably not to the same level because of the impact of race in all of this, but it still happens.”
— Preckwinkle’s 2021 pandemic budget plan includes dipping into reserve fund, no tax hikes: “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is scheduled to unveil a $6.9 billion plan for next year’s budget on Thursday that would not raise or introduce taxes but would dip into reserves in order to help plug an overall projected $409 million hole amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Preckwinkle will propose making the one-time transfer of $76.8 million from the county’s general fund reserve, which is estimated to be a little more than $400 million, to avoid tax increases and more critical cuts as the pandemic hammers local government revenues across the U.S.,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.
— United Airlines’ white-collar job cuts are permanent: “More than 2,500 non-union employees have left the airline or been laid off during the Covid crisis. ‘These reductions are expected to be largely permanent, even as demand recovers,’ the company said,” by Crain’s John Pletz.
— Kyle Rittenhouse, accused Kenosha killer, won’t race gun charges in Illinois: “Lake County, Ill. State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim’s office said in a statement that an investigation conducted by local police ‘revealed the gun used in the Kenosha shooting was purchased, stored and used in Wisconsin,’” by NPR’s Brakkton Booker.
— Lake Forest mansion inspired by George Keck’s House of Tomorrow lists today for $2.9M: “The current house might be called “the house of the day after the day after tomorrow.” It was rebuilt in 1997 by the architectural firm Shepherd Partnership, of Milwaukee, for a previous owner, with interiors by designer John Regas, of Chicago. Only the bones of the house—its steel frame—and the patio tiles remain from the original Keck home,” by the Wall Street Journal.
— Pritzker and advocates urge last-minute participation in census: “The Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition is one of dozens of groups that has been advocating for an accurate count. Multiple court battles and the coronavirus pandemic have scrambled deadlines and plans for the once-in-a-decade survey, adding to concerns about an undercount,” reports NPR Illinois’ Mary Hansen.
— Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says he won’t seek re-election, “Ardis made his announcement during a news conference Wednesday in City Council chambers at City Hall. Standing at the central podium in the middle of the Horseshoe, Ardis said it was the ‘best decision for my family’… ‘I am confident that this will allow some people who may not have entertained a thought of running against a 4-term incumbent to enter the race. I’m confident that Peoria will have strong leadership in the future,’” by the Peoria Journal Star.
U. of C. Booth School of Business goes remote after over 100 students exposed to Covid-19 at off-campus gathering, officials say: “Last week, a large group of full-time MBA students gathered off-campus on Chicago’s North Side, many without face coverings, the school said. Since that, some students from that group have tested positive for Covid-19,” by ABC/7’s Liz Nagy.
— Despite problems with the state, businessman in line for lucrative pot licenses: “The Illinois Gaming Board wants to put Jeffrey Rehberger Jr. out of business. But other state officials back his bid for cannabis shops,” by WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos and Mariah Woelfel.
— Recreational pot taxes top $100M in first 8 months: “Illinois tallied more than $100 million in tax revenues during the first eight months cannabis was fully legalized, state officials announced this week,” reports Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.
— 5 takeaways from the Amy Coney Barrett hearings, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein
— After decades of lackluster turnout, will Hispanics turn Arizona blue? By POLITICO’s Tim Alberta
— Democrats’ coming civil war over police unions, by POLITICO’s Laura Barron-Lopez
— The president’s abnormal comments may be the best evidence that, deep down, he really is normal, writes POLITICO’s John F. Harris
— New poll shows Black Americans put far less trust in doctors and hospitals than white people, by the Undefeated’s Jesse Washington
Erin Wall, 44, Dies; Acclaimed Soprano in Mozart and Strauss: “Wall, who started her career at Lyric Opera of Chicago, had a silvery soprano voice that grew more opulent as it evolved,” writes the New York Times.
Today: Polish Americans for Biden virtual rally. Details here
Friday: Hillary Clinton makes a special appearance at a virtual gala to benefit the Higher Heights for America PAC, which works to elect Black women. Details here
Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’ Comes to Netflix: “Sacha Baron Cohen is among the stars of the new film that comes amid a wave of projects focusing on civil unrest,” by the Wall Street Journal.
WEDNESDAY’s GUESS: Congrats to Rina Ranalli, a publishing consultant, event strategist and former Chicago Ideas editorial director, and Richard Greenfield, a policy analyst and MPA student at Governors State University, for correctly answering that former House Speaker William "Bill" Redmond was a child model for Sun Maid Raisins.
TODAY’S QUESTION: Where are the studio lights used in the Kennedy/Nixon debates now located? Email your answer to [email protected].
Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, RNC Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Robert Harris, tech entrepreneur Jim Larrison, PR pro Dori Wilson, Allstate CEO Tom Wilson, and Ted Cox, reporter for One Illinois.
October 15, 2020 at 07:49AM