Biden wins, city-wide celebrations and COVID testing kits
And milestone COVID case counts across the state
Welcome back to the newsletter, everyone. The news has been fairly nonstop since March, but we can all probably agree that this week may have taken the cake for news overload. It’s been a journey! But, as always, your newsletter team – Francesca, Cam, Justin, Paige and Robin – is here to break it down.
The 2020 Election, in review
Without a doubt, the Election Day-turned-week ended with an announcement on Saturday that had the entire country - and world - on the edge of its seat: that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be President and Vice President following the end of President Trump’s first term.
Photo by Cam Rodriguez, 14 East
With Pennsylvania flipping blue on early Saturday morning, Biden clinched the necessary 270 electoral votes needed to secure a majority in the Electoral College, as well as the popular vote, breaking former President Obama’s record of receiving the most votes in history. While votes are still being counted, especially in Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Alaska, which have not been officially called yet by the Associated Press, Biden’s win of the “Blue Wall” states of the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, led to a decisive 279-214 win.
After four years of division and tension, people flocked to the streets of major U.S. cities and cheered with their loved ones to celebrate the Biden/Harris win. Around the world, heads of state congratulated President-elect Biden, including Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, who tweeted “welcome back, America” in response to the news.
In Chicago, revelers flocked to familiar gathering spots for parades, festivals and, this summer, protests. On the North Side, people congregated on Clark Street in Andersonville, on Halsted in Boystown, and outside Wrigley Field, all sites of mass demonstrations following police violence and the death of George Floyd earlier this year. Most notably, thousands filled the Michigan Avenue bridge adjacent to Trump International Tower and Hotel downtown, popping bottles of champagne and cheering as motorists waved flags from their cars.
Photo by Cam Rodriguez, 14 East.
This week stood as a test of election officials and the patience of the American public. Accusations of voter fraud and mismanagement by President Trump are being broadcast instead of a concession speech, and the country undoubtedly has much farther to go in terms of handling the potential fallout and repercussions from Biden’s and Harris’s win.
In Chicago, COVID-19 is still on the rise
Over the weekend, Chicago saw more than 10,000 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and there were 42 deaths reported on Sunday alone in Illinois. In response to the rapidly increasing numbers, Illinois hospitals are once again limiting visitors and it is projected that the number of those hospitalized due to COVID-19 could surpass the peak hospitalizations last spring. This has sparked concerns from healthcare workers about overly packed hospitals, and how to most effectively help the mass of people requiring hospital treatment for COVID-19. Due to the second wave of COVID-19 cases, Illinois officials have announced that the state will start to move back towards previous lockdown levels, encouraging limiting gatherings to a minimum and restaurant parties to six or less. Mayor Lori Lightfoot also announced a new grant that will help the hospitality industry throughout the holiday months, saying that “residents are encouraged to ‘be smart’ this Thanksgiving,” and that “this year has to be different.”
In other news, Illinois marijuana sales have surpassed the $100 million mark since January 1. With the recent elections, the industry is predicted to only continue its massive growth as both a medical and recreational industry.
Chicago has also been experiencing unseasonably warm 70-degree days in November, breaking a record for the longest stretch of 70-degree days in November. This mini “heat wave” is supposed to last through Tuesday and then drop to the 40s and 50s for the rest of the week.
At DePaul, COVID-19 test kits by mail are here
DePaul students, faculty and staff looking for COVID-19 testing can now request a free mail-in test courtesy of the university. These mail-in PCR home tests are FDA-approved and administered by LabCorp. This is not a university testing program but rather a university-sponsored initiative to “make COVID-19 testing more accessible” to its community.
To request one, call (773) 325-3300 and press “1” to speak to a contact tracer, who can walk you through the steps to requesting a test. That line is open Sunday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Once your request is made, your kit will be mailed using FedEx overnight shipping and will arrive at your door in one to two days following the request. Then, mail it back, and you can expect your results about two days after it’s received on the other end.
While the program is aimed at those who struggle to find in-person testing due to barriers like accessibility and insurance, anyone can request a test, no matter where they are. It is advised, however, that kits not be requested until they are needed to ensure that the most up-to-date version of the test is sent. Additionally, though the mail-in kits are an alternative for those with limited access to physical testing sites, it is cautioned that the mail-in testing results may take longer to receive than in-person results due to the shipping times.
DePaul news in brief:
Jeff Bethke, executive vice president at DePaul, announced last week that he will be stepping down from his current position to become part of a financial consultation project focused on higher education. His last day as executive vice president will be December 31, 2020.
Responding to a turbulent election, ongoing civil unrest and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the SGA has passed a resolution calling for the faculty council to allow students to have access to the same options that were given during Spring Quarter finals week. In Spring Quarter, students were given the option to not have their final exams or projects impact their final grade or, in some cases, to have the class filed as an incomplete. While the new resolution has been passed in the SGA, it must clear the faculty council before going into effect. Students can show their support for the measure by signing this form.
Don’t want to read the news? Here are other headlines to know:
Now that Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the projected winner of the November 3 election, he’s kicking into gear his plan to move the United States forward. Vox reports Biden will have some issues passing legislation if Senator Mitch McConnell keeps the Senate even with executive orders (the Georgia runoffs on January 5 could help push Democratic control of the Senate). However, Biden released his plan to tackle COVID-19 which includes testing, a 100,000-person Public Health Jobs Corps, hazard pay for essential workers and vaccine deployment.
The New York Times reports that Republican leaders refused to acknowledge Biden’s win, but that hasn’t stopped the President-elect from making the transition of power continue. Republicans declined to offer well wishes to Biden, except for former President George W. Bush. While international leadership largely embraced the results, Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China have refrained.
President-elect Biden announced a coronavirus task force with expert physicians and health experts. The three co-chairs are Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration, David Kessler, FDA commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at Yale School of Medicine.
The Chicago Tribune reports the nine things the Biden administration could do to improve the environment. Some of these include: rejoining the Paris Agreement, reversing energy rollbacks, making climate part of coronavirus relief and prioritizing environmental justice.
This week, our resources are focused specifically on COVID-19 testing and mental health resources.
All of these testing sites can be accessed for free and without insurance.
Howard Brown offers free, walk-in COVID-19 testing at multiple locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, in addition to mobile testing sites that are updated weekly, which you can access here.
The Illinois Department of Health and the City of Chicago have opened more free COVID-19 testing sites in the city and surrounding counties, which are listed with more information here.
In the spring, the City of Chicago partnered with CORE response to set up free drive-thru and walk-in testing sites in the city, primarily on the South and West sides, with appointments available Monday through Friday. Register here.
The city has also updated their COVID-19 testing program with more mobile sites, which change weekly. More info here.
Mental Health Resources
At Open Counseling, there’s a list of people and nonprofits with counseling services available for free or low cost.
This website compiles mental health resources, including therapist/counselor directories and other online resources.
The Center on Halsted offers behavioral health, anti-violence and educational resources for LGBTQIA+ people.
Howard Brown Health offers anti-racism resources and sliding scale counseling specializing in the LGBTQ+ community.
This document is a resource for Black people experiencing racial trauma. This master list includes specific resources as well as protesting tips and donation links.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago who provide services for under $75.
Here’s 7 virtual mental health resources supporting Black people right now, including Chicago-based community organization Sista Afya’s support groups
And the Trans Lifeline’s Peer Support Hotline is a resource operated by transgender and nonbinary staffers for the trans community: 877-565-8860.
The Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago is a nonprofit that provides affordable, sliding-scale counseling. Call (312) 263-4368 extension 9081 to schedule an intake appointment (counseling is not religious-centered).
That’s all from us this week, dear readers. We wish you all a less-stressful week ahead and we’ll see you next Monday.
Fran, Robin, Justin, Paige and Cam