City Council authorizes $377 million in federal stimulus spending
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file
At a tension-filled meeting that revived an old political feud, the City Council on Friday authorized another round of federal stimulus spending despite the political furor triggered by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s decision to use $281.5 million from earlier relief funds to cover police payroll costs.
Just hours before, Lightfoot had said she was confident she would get her way 48 hours after two of her most dedicated Council critics — deposed Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th) and Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) — used a parliamentary maneuver to delay the stimulus vote.
“Our residents are literally still fighting for their lives every single day. What they want all of us to do is focus on the things that are important to them. To deliver for them,” the mayor said before the meeting.
“That’s what we ought to be focused on and not a lot of political theater and drama. Nobody has any patience or time for that.”
10:02 a.m. House passes $1.9T COVID relief bill on near party-line vote
The House approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that was championed by President Joe Biden, the first step in providing another dose of aid to a weary nation as the measure now moves to a tense Senate.
The new president’s vision for infusing cash across a struggling economy to individuals, businesses, schools, states and cities battered by COVID-19 passed on a near party-line 219-212 vote early Saturday. That ships the bill to the Senate, where Democrats seem bent on resuscitating their minimum wage push and fights could erupt over state aid and other issues.
Democrats said that mass unemployment and the half-million American lives lost are causes for quick, decisive action. GOP lawmakers, they said, were out of step with a public that polling finds largely views the bill favorably.
9:17 a.m. How to support CPS students worried about going back to school
Some Chicago Public Schools students are counting down the hours until Monday’s in-person reopening after nearly 12 months of remote learning.
For others, returning to the classroom brings anxiety and fear.
“There is nothing wrong with being a little bit afraid or a little bit stressed — it actually could be super motivating for us,” said Alexa James, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Chicago. “The challenge is when the stress becomes so overbearing that it paralyzes us from learning, from engaging, from going.”
Social anxiety, separation anxiety and fear of the virus are just some of worries swirling around the heads of some students and families as CPS schools reopen in-person learning for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Transparency on the school day and reminding students of their support system are critical to helping smooth the transition, according to mental health experts.
8:01 a.m. Are you planning to travel this spring? What Chicagoans told us.
With spring fast approaching and Chicago’s public health officials loosening travel guidelines thanks to gains in the fight against COVID-19, we asked readers: Do you plan to travel this spring? Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
“Yes, we will be fully vaccinated and continue mask-wearing and hand-washing.” — Jessica Medrano
“I didn’t travel at all, and I take two to three trips a year. If it is safe to do so, I will. I am completely vaccinated, but I still can’t go to Europe because they are not playing with us.” — Veronica Dionne Holeyfield
“Hoping to make Niagara Falls for our 30th in July. Will be driving and certainly hope to be shot up long before then. Looking forward to going somewhere.” — John Egan
- The Illinois Department of Public Health Friday reported 2,441 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 55 additional deaths.
- 1,183,667 cases, including 20,460 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois, IDPH reported.
- Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 92,256 specimens for a total of 17,988,085. As of Thursday night, 1,393 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19, IDPH said.
- The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from February 19–25, 2021 is 2.5%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from February 19–25, 2021 is 2.7%, IDPH reported.
Analysis & Commentary
9:17 a.m. Lessons from COVID-19 that are worth remembering, like not becoming numb to it all
Like gun fatalities and car crashes, you could become numb to the 500,000 coronavirus deaths and to what that number means to the families of COVID-19 victims.
Indeed, we shouldn’t dwell on the misery the deadly virus has caused, if only for the sake of our mental health.
It helps to look on the bright side.
Forced to stick close to home, many of us found joy in simple pleasures like learning how to bake the perfect apple pie.
But as President Joe Biden said at a ceremony for the nation to pay our respects to those we have lost to the pandemic: “We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur.”
There are lessons from COVID-19 that should stay with us for the rest of our lives.
5:20 p.m. Bringing the COVID-19 vaccine directly to public housing senior residents is a great idea
Unlike many of the people who are reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine, Yvonne Johnson had no particular concerns about the vaccine itself.
What Johnson doesn’t like are needles or shots of any variety, the vaccine just happening to be one version.
As a result, the 66-year-old had not been among the many senior citizens vying for a vaccination over the past month.
“I was running from it scared, until my daughter told me I need to take it,” Johnson told me at the CHA’s Alfreda Barnett Duster Apartments, where she and dozens of her fellow residents had gathered to be vaccinated.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the need for government officials to make it easier especially for older people to access vaccine appointments, the online competition being unworkable for many of them. That’s before you even get to mobility issues.
One recommendation I passed along from the Jane Addams Senior Caucus was that we start taking the vaccine directly to senior public housing residents instead of making them find their own.
What I didn’t realize is that the Cook County Housing Authority already started doing that in the senior public housing buildings it operates in the suburbs.
Source by chicago.suntimes.com