COVID-19 spikes on campus, new CDM interim dean and synagogues defaced
And info about U-Pass opt outs
And just like that, January is coming to a close! At 14 East, we’ve had a pretty eventful first month of the year, from expanding our team and covering some big breaking news stories to launching our podcast series The B-Side. It’s been a hectic — but wonderful — start of the new year, and we sincerely appreciate all the support from our newsletter subscribers.
As always, it’s your newsletter team — Claire, Cam, Kate, Maureen, Eiman, Emily, Grace DV. and Richie — back with more news to start your week. So let’s jump right into it!
Spike in on-campus COVID cases marks start of Winter Quarter at DePaul
By Cam Rodriguez
In September, I wrote about how the university’s shift to relying only on a data dashboard to communicate COVID-19 spread to the larger community was a shift away from transparency. A quarter later, with on-campus case counts shattering past record highs, I feel the same. (If not even more strongly.)
Since the quarter, and as of publication, we’ve hit two major records when it comes to COVID cases.
One, we’ve had the most cases on campus in one week than we’ve ever had, with 49 on-campus cases added to a last week, and,
Two, in just four short weeks, we’ve surpassed the total amount of cases we had during all of Fall Quarter, reporting a total of 149 cases so far this quarter.
As someone keeping day-to-day tabs on the data that the university does provide, these numbers are nothing short of startling, but ultimately unsurprising: following the holiday season and the start of the year, Illinois (as well as the entire country) faced record-high case numbers due to the increased transmissibility of the omicron variant. Only now, though, is the state rebounding and are cases dropping – except for at DePaul’s two campuses, it seems.
This initial Winter Quarter spike was something the university anticipated, which is why the majority of classes started and remained online for the first two weeks of the quarter. (During that time, DePaul still had approximately 62 people on-campus who had reported that they tested positive for COVID-19.) And despite the spike now, the university is “committed to in-person learning,” according to university spokesperson Mary Hansen in an email to 14 East.
“We’re hopeful that our cautious start to Winter Quarter allows us to sustain a robust college experience the remainder of the year. To that end, we expanded testing hours for the month of January, updated our masking policy and instituted a requirement for a COVID-19 vaccine booster,” Hansen wrote, citing the newly-enacted booster requirement that received backing from the Faculty and Staff councils as well as the Student Government Association.
“DePaul’s Community Health Team is keeping a close eye on changes to COVID guidance coming from the Chicago Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any changes DePaul may make to its current COVID practices will be shared with students, faculty and staff and posted on the COVID website,” she continued. “Our COVID levels have generally been consistent with the city. While city health officials are urging caution, they also believe the city has moved beyond the peak of the omicron surge.”
While the dashboard reports cases in aggregate, meaning it lumps cases together by week in which a person was last on campus while infectious, I’ve been keeping track of things by day, using a combination of web scrapers, a lot of coffee and spite. (Kidding.)
Because cases can be retroactively added to weeks prior, it’s hard to have an accurate pinpoint of when people may be on campus with COVID on a daily scale. By checking the dashboard at a few key points per day, and marking down the raw numbers, I’ve been able to at least gather the amount of cases announced per day in order to gather possible trends about reporting and when spikes occur.
While the amount of cases announced per day fluctuates, a common trend is a mid-week spike of announced cases. Last Thursday, DePaul set a record of most cases announced in a day, with 14 new people added to the dashboard.
What questions do you have about COVID at DePaul?
At 14 East, it’s important to us that we’re listening to our readers and providing the most helpful and needed information to our community. That includes things like data and how the university is keeping track of it, what isolation and quarantine housing is like, or even questions about what other resources are available. (It also includes non-COVID stuff, like places to go grab a bite if you’re visiting your student or spouse, issues impacting faculty and staff within departments or colleges, how to explore the city on foot or by train, and more.)
If you have a question, or you know someone who does, drop us an email or send us a text at (847) 802-9606. We’ll let you know if we have the answer to your question, and if we don’t, we’ll help track it down.
Need a KN95 mask to follow DePaul’s updated masking guidelines? Check out our guide to finding them on and off campus for free.
By Kate Linderman
Students planning to not use their U-Pass this quarter can opt-out before February 3 according to an email sent to students on January 14. Those who opt out will receive a refund for the U-Pass program, which is automatically charged to all eligible students in their tuition bill. More information about the U-Pass program can be found here.
Lucia Dettori Named CDM Interim Dean
Lucia Dettori, associate dean and associate professor at the College of Computing and Digital Media’s School of Computing, was named the interim dean of CDM effective July 1, 2022. Dettori accepted a two-year appointment according to Newsline.
This follows current CDM Dean David Miller’s announcement in September that he would be stepping down from his position at the end of the academic year.
Lastly, your weekend sports update (January 28-30):
The women’s basketball team beat St. John’s 94-88 on Friday
The men’s basketball team lost to Connecticut 57-50 on Saturday
The women’s tennis team lost to Michigan State 5-2 on Sunday
By Maureen Dunne
Synagogues and Jewish Businesses Defaced With Swastika, Broken Windows — Two West Ridge Jewish community establishments were vandalized and a man was verbally harassed last Friday night, the week of Holocaust Rememberance Day. No suspects have been identified at this time. Fiftieth ward alderperson Debra Silverstein has announced a community meeting in the wake of the concerning events. Joe Ward of Block Club Chicago reports.
Jason Van Dyke to Be Released from Prison Thursday — Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer convicted of murdering 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald in 2014, is being released early from prison Thursday.He served three years of his nine-year sentence and was granted early release due to good behavior. Organizers and community members are upset with his early release, calling it a “sad day,” while Congressman Bobby Rush and Rev. Jesse Jackson call on the Department of Justice to file federal charges against him. Judy Wang and Julian Crews of WGN report.
New Report Details City’s CPS Enrollment Drop — Chicago Public Schools have seen a well-documented decline in enrollment in the past 20 years. There are currently 100,000 fewer enrollments in CPS this school year than in 2000. A recent report from Kids First Chicago attributes the decline to fewer overall births and the loss of Black families from city limits, as well as smaller Latino families. Manny Ramos of the Chicago Sun-Times has the story.
City’s Invest South/West Project Earmarks $38 Million Redevelopment for North Lawndale Industrial Site — A long vacant stretch of Roosevelt and Kostner will see new use after City Council approved a proposal from developers. The former factory and illegal dumping ground will be converted to an industrial complex, community center and bring 700 jobs to the West Side. Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune has the details.
Chicago Welcomes 472 New Citizens at Inaugural Naturalization Ceremony — Governor JB Pritzker presided over the first naturalization ceremony held in the Auditorium Theater on Monday. The ceremony officially welcomed new American citizens from 82 countries. Josephine Stratman of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
By Eiman Navaid
FDA Approves Moderna Vaccine – Monday morning, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. It was previously available under emergency use authorization, and is the second COVID-19 vaccine to get full FDA approval, after Pfizer and BioNTech’s in August of 2021. Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Hannah Knowles, and Lateshia Beachum of the Washington Post report.
Continued Standoff Between US and Russia — A United Nations Security Council meeting regarding the escalated tensions between Moscow and Kyiv ended in a standoff between the US and Russia. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that they hoped to have answers from Russia regarding the decision to put masses of troops along their border, but did not get any sufficient answers. Jennifer Hansler of CNN reports.
Plea Deals Rejected in Ahmaud Arbery Killing — A federal judge rejected hate-crime plea deals from two of the three white men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, in Georgia. The proposed plea deal from Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, would have required the defendants to admit the crime was racially motivated. Richard Faucet of the New York Times has the details.
Cheslie Kryst, Former Miss USA, Dies by Suicide — Former Miss USA, attorney who sought reform for America’s justice system, fashion blogger and entertainment news correspondent Cheslie Kryst died by suicide on Sunday morning. Her death is being investigated by the New York Police Department. Alaa Elassar and Liam Reilly of CNN.
Hey, Check This Out!
With Featured Columnist Emily Soto
Hi everyone! This past month, I’ve had a little bit of a food show obsession — so I thought, why not share it with you all? Here’s two of the shows I watched on Netflix.
School of Chocolate
This show is hosted by Instagram-famous pastry chef Amaury Guichon, who is known for his elaborate chocolate sculptures and out of the box pastries. In the show, he is the instructor to eight pastry chefs who were selected to come and learn his techniques while competing for a prize worth $100,000. The skills they learn are unique and challenging, but Guichon makes them look so easy.
The best part of the show though, is that there are no eliminations. Although this isn’t the norm for this type of show, I really enjoyed it. You were able to watch all eight pastry chefs grow and develop their talents, form friendships or rivalries and take in the entire learning experience. So as they sit around the table and share their final creations with each other, you might find yourself inspired to do a little baking yourself.
The Final Table
This show features 24 chefs from around the world, competing for a chance to have their signature dish featured alongside the dishes of nine Michelin star chefs. The challenge is to cook a specified “national dish” that represents a chosen country. The competing chefs come to the competition with different culinary knowledge and experiences; meaning that although they have traveled the world learning about food, they don’t know about every country that shows up along the way. Yet, they still have to find a way to impress these world renowned chefs. (Oh, and fun fact: the chef representing the United States is Grant Achatz from Lincoln Park, of world-famous restaurant, Alinea.)
But putting the competition aside, we learn about what brought both the competitors, and award-winning chefs to a lifelong passion for food. We learn about the cuisine of different cultures around the world. And we learn about the artistry that goes into making food at such a high caliber. This definitely makes it a must watch.
Need resources regarding warming centers, rental assistance, COVID-19 testing and vaccines or mental health? Check out our complete list here.
That’s all for today! Again, we appreciate you sticking with us and hope you had a great month. We’ll catch you here next week. Until then, take care of yourselves!
The 14 East Newsletter Team