Why Chicagoans are putting teddy bears in their windows
With Chicago schools closed, playdates canceled and many outdoor public spaces on lockdown, kids across the city — and their parents — are getting antsy. So Chicago has joined a global movement to make families’ occasional trips outside in their neighborhoods a fun and engaging experience.
The #bearhunt movement was inspired by Michael Rosen’s 1989 children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” which opens with the lines, “We’re going on a bear hunt/We’re going to catch a big one/What a beautiful day!/We’re not scared.”
The movement has spread from Canada to New Zealand and across the U.S. Across the city and surrounding suburbs, neighbors have been using social media to encourage their communities to participate.
While gathering in large groups outside is not recommended, medical professionals say it’s important to get moderate exercise and fresh air, both for physical and mental health. The “humble daily walk” can serve as “an anchor” for those in need of routines while social distancing — especially children.
6:42 a.m. U.S. social distancing guidelines extended to April 30, President Trump says
Bracing the nation for a grim death toll, President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the voluntary national shutdown for a month, bowing to public-health experts who told him the coronavirus pandemic could claim over 100,000 lives in the U.S., perhaps significantly more, if not enough is done to fight it.
It was a stark shift in tone by the president, who only days ago mused about the country reopening in a few weeks. From the Rose Garden, he said his Easter revival hopes had only been “aspirational.”
The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. But instead he decided to extend them through April 30, a tacit acknowledgment he’d been too optimistic. Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.
“I want our life back again,” the president told reporters in the Rose Garden.
5:30 a.m. Coronavirus upends college decision process for Chicago high school students
Picking a college has always been a nerve-wracking experience — especially as May 1 approaches, the date by which most four-year colleges require new students to enroll for a spot in the fall.
But with campuses closed, college fairs canceled and students cut off from their teachers and counselors during an unprecedented shutdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, students have found their decision process increasingly difficult, especially as the economy falters. Meanwhile, the organizations and institutions supporting them are having to find new ways of helping seniors stay on track.
- Singer-songwriter John Prine, a Grammy-winning veteran of the Chicago folk scene whose admirers include Bob Dylan and Roger Waters, has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. “His situation is critical,” according to a statement.
- Placido Domingo was hospitalized with complications from COVID-19 in Mexico
- The Cook County medical examiner confirmed Sunday that eight more people have died of the coronavirus after completing the day’s autopsies, bringing the county’s total to 40 deaths. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced over 1,000 new coronavirus cases Sunday across Illinois, with 18 people dying.
7:42 a.m. Check-out time for reusable grocery bags? For now, ‘paper or plastic’ a safer option
Apparently Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order also applies to reusable grocery bags.
Just one day after the union that represents Chicago grocery and pharmacy workers requested — and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration rejected — suspending the city’s plastic bag tax and temporarily banning the use of reusable bags, the governor announced Saturday that grocery stores around the state will soon roll out a new set of guidelines that includes a temporary prohibition on reusable bags.
It was not immediately clear how this will impact grocery stores in the city, where shoppers are charged 7 cents per bag if they don’t bring their own.
On Friday, the mayor’s office issued a statement statement shooting down the suggestion of a temporary ban and citing a lack of evidence that reusable bags transmit the illness.
On Saturday, it issued a new statement saying the city will comply with any new protocols and restrictions for grocery stores but intends to continue to collect the bag tax.
6:37 a.m. Rent is coming due for many who’ve lost jobs or seen their hours cut
Many renters who have lost jobs or seen their hours cut because of the coronavirus have their own reckoning with an April 1 due date. Larger Chicago-area landlords say they’re in no mood to forgive rent, but they might extend the deadline if asked. Some may hold off on eviction proceedings for longer than the current state and local mandates require.
“We expect rent to be paid on time. For those who lost their jobs, we’ll work out a payment plan. I still have to pay salaries, taxes and mortgages,” said Stuart Handler, CEO of TLC Management and a board member of the Chicagoland Apartment Association, the lobbying voice for landlords. TLC has more than 10,000 apartments in the city and suburbs.
David Friedman, president of F&F Realty in Skokie, said tenants have leverage because Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has suspended evictions until April 30. Landlords, however, are free to start eviction proceedings in court, a filing that could hurt tenants’ chance of finding an apartment elsewhere.