Axios Chicago

Picture of the Chicago skyline.

November 15, 2021

Happy Monday! It's National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. That moldy stuff in the crisper is not going to clean itself.

โ„๏ธ Today's weather: Partly cloudy and snowy with a high of 40.

Situational awareness: Today Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot will be at the White House for the signing of the infrastructure bill.

Today's newsletter is 905 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Booster eligibility confusion

Illustration of a syringeย as a rocket propelling through the atmosphere

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many Chicagoans who think they're ineligible for COVID-19 booster shots might be wrong.

  • At a Friday press conference, city health commissioner Allison Arwady urged adults who got their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine six months ago to "get a booster" even if it's just to attend "higher risk events."

Why it matters: Official federal guidance is a lot stricter, but Arwady appears to be mirroring California health authorities by unofficially expanding booster eligibility based on self-assessed risk.

What they're saying: Arwady described eligible people as those 18 and over who got Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations and "are for any reason at increased risk."

  • Her criteria: "If they have any kind of underlying condition or if they're working or living or even attending a higher risk event, we are encouraging them to also get a booster."

What we're seeing: Anecdotally, we know several Chicagoans who have easily obtained the booster but don't technically meet federal eligibility standards.

  • Folks seeking those boosters are not being asked to prove eligibility through medical or occupational records.
  • Monica confirmed this by getting a booster for her adult daughter and herself Friday.

Context: Last week, Pfizer officially lobbied U.S. health authorities to open booster eligibility to anyone over 18.

What's next: With rising rates in Chicago and Illinois, local leaders might be pressured to do the same.

  • Based on Arwady's comments, we think Chicago (unofficially) already has.

Where to go: Chicagoans can book vaccine appointments at hundreds of local clinics and pharmacies, or check out this calendar of mobile and pop-up vax events around the area.

2. Sleeping outside in solidarity

Illustration of a homeless person sitting in front of a white picket fence

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Temperatures are expected to drop to the 30s Thursday night, but hundreds of Chicagoans who normally sleep indoors will spend the night outside as part of the 5th annual Sleep Out Chicago.

Why it matters: Chicago has an estimated 3,000 unhoused youth and the event aims to raise awareness about their needs.

  • It also raises money for Covenant House Illinois, a West Side facility offering shelter, meals, job training, medical and mental health services and legal aid to young people.

How Sleep Out works: Participants sign up and can attend in-person at Covenant House or virtually from a home yard, porch, or anywhere except for a comfy bed in solidarity with unstably-housed youth.

  • The in-person event includes panel discussions and interactive group sessions to hear from young people directly affected by homelessness.

What they're saying: "Participants' perspectives change and they recognize that young people facing homelessness are very capable of doing great things if they are empowered to feel hope and are provided with resources," Jim Coleman, Sleep Out event chair, tells Axios.

3. Bright spot: State IDs for the formerly incarcerated

Illustration of a light bulb with a star from the flag of Chicago for a filament.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿ‘‹ Monica here. Years ago, I accompanied my 8th grade daughter while she did interviews with unhoused people on Michigan Avenue. Her last question to each was what they'd say if they could talk to the mayor.

  • More than one said they'd ask for a program to give state IDs to people leaving prison because official IDs are essential to getting a job, entering a shelter and starting a new life.

The bright spot: This year the state of Illinois started a pilot program to furnish people leaving prison with state IDs.

  • The pilot has produced 346 IDs as of October, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).

What's next: By April 2022, the program will extend to all 27 Illinois correctional facilities, IDOC officials say.

4. Tips and hot links

Illustration that says tips and hot links

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ Police brass are limiting days off for officers "until further notice." (ABC 7 Chicago)

๐ŸŽฌ Cinespace reportedly sells for $1 billion as local film/TV production grows. (Block Club Chicago)

๐Ÿšฟ Chicagoans tell their stories of trying to keep up with rising water bills. (Sun-Times/WBEZ)

๐Ÿ–ผ Here's a nice profile on the woman who brought modern art to Chicago. (Chicago Reader)

๐Ÿˆ With no Bears game to break down, why not go back in history? It's the 20 year anniversary of the 13-3 2001 Bears. (Chicago Tribune)

5. Sears memories flood our inbox

A photo of the Sears at Woodfield Mall.

The exterior of the Sears store at Woodfield Mall. Photo: Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

On Friday, we wrote about the closing of the last Sears store in Illinois and got so many great emails talking about childhood memories in stores all across the Chicago area.

๐Ÿฟ The Sears on Lawrence used to have a popcorn popper and confectionery counter by the main entrance, so when you walked in it always smelled like fresh popcorn and chocolate. It's where I learned the fancy French name for Sno-Caps ("nonpareils"). - Maggie B.

๐ŸŽ„ My memories include the Christmas Wish Book, literally the size of a telephone book where dreams came true๐Ÿคž๐Ÿปhopefully. - Judee B.

๐Ÿ“บ My family trips to Sears: Mom takes my brother to get some Toughskin Huskies, Dad tests the tubes from the TV at the self-check tube thingy, I get chocolate stars in a little wax paper bag from the candy and nut counter. Good times! - Grace D

๐Ÿ’ฒ At the old Six Corners location, I found a nice dress shirt that was marked down five different times and rang up at only 91 cents. I'll never beat that. - Mike C.

๐ŸŽธ As a teenager, my best friend and I went to a concert at Sears. It was a British band, just not sure which one, but I do know that it was one which became quite popular. By the way, it was FREE! Imagine going to Sears to hear a rock band. Ha! - Roxanne H.

๐Ÿ‘‹ Justin here! We've canceled our Axios Office Hours tomorrow. On Friday, I tested positive for COVID-19. I don't have any symptoms but I need to quarantine. So we will reschedule for early December. Thanks for understanding.

Our picks:

๐ŸŽธ Monica can't believe how much good music is in town this week, like the Magnetic Fields all week and then Mavis Staples with Kelly Hogan on Friday.

๐Ÿ“š Justin has a lot of time on his hands. He's already listened to the Taylor Swift album a few times. Any other music/TV/reading recommendations?

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