Low TSA vax rates threaten Thanksgiving travel, ward remapping and end of quarter updates
Plus vax goals for children in Chicago and the People's Map
Well hey there! Thanks so much for joining this week’s newsletter. If you’re with us in Chicago, we hope you’re managing to stay warm and dry. This week, we have a feature story on DePaul students traveling for Thanksgiving amongst the latest COVID-19 regulations, end of quarter updates for DePaul, local news featuring the stores on ward maps, child vaccine goals and more. And of course, another recommendation, this week, continuing with our series on DePaul’s own student media.
But don’t let us get in your way of reading, once again, the newsletter team — Claire, Kate, Emily, Cam, Grace V., Ally and Grace DV. — thanks you for reading.
Oh and one more thing! 14 East and Pueblo are hiring for Winter Quarter. Read more about the positions and apply here. Applications are due November 28 at midnight.
Biden vax deadline looms over expected Thanksgiving travel surge
By Cam Rodriguez
What can Thanksgiving travelers feel grateful for this year? Their vaccines, to start.
Travelers by air can expect increased requirements for vaccines and mask-wearing from municipalities and private corporations alike, though health precautions could be rendered futile by TSA employees who have yet to get vaccinated by President Biden’s November 22 deadline, leaving travelers to be exposed to potentially unvaccinated employees during the busiest travel week of the year.
The September 9 mandate impacts all executive branch employees and federal contractors. With no “test-out” option, it calls for the almost 4.2 million civilian and uniformed military employees, including the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Transportation Security Administration, to get vaccinated by November 22 — three days prior to Thanksgiving and the kickoff of one of the busiest travel weeks of the year — or risk being fired.
If employees fail to get their vaccine doses by the deadline, they’ll be under a probationary period and given five days to receive an initial dose; if they don’t get vaccinated after the five days, they’ll be suspended and only then could be fired. As KTLA5 points out, the process could take months, and travelers could be exposed to unvaccinated workers in the meantime who, by nature of the job, buck social distancing efforts in the interest of security, experts say.
In an interview with CNN in October, TSA Administrator David Pekoske estimated that about 60 percent of the TSA workforce was vaccinated, with a desire to see the number “go quite a bit higher” as the deadline approaches. That leaves nearly 20,000 employees without a COVID-19 vaccine — and with proven issues throughout the pandemic and current stats reporting over 11,000 cumulative cases in the agency, up 5,000 from February, it doesn’t leave travelers with much confidence.
Emily Trujillo, a senior at DePaul, plans on flying back this Thanksgiving to visit family in her hometown of San Antonio. According to TSA’s statistics, San Antonio International Airport last reported a positive COVID-19 case among a TSA screening employee as recently as last week, and has had 85 cumulative cases since the pandemic started.
“I do feel uneasy about [unvaccinated employees], especially because a lot of people go through airports, and you don’t know where they’ve been or if they’re vaccinated, too,” said Trujillo. “[TSA agents] are putting themselves at risk.”
Union AFGE, which represents just under 20,000 people in the air travel industry, agrees that vaccines are essential — but, like many other unions across the country, with the caveat that sweeping federal mandates are an overreach with plans to “bargain over the change prior to implementation.” Last week, union leaders sent letters to Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and other federal agency directors, calling to extend the November deadline to mid-January.
“Federal workers should be able to complete the holiday season without the threat of discipline looming over them,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley wrote. “AFGE also expects the holidays will be an excellent time for federal employees to contemplate these important decisions, and the New Year to be a time of renewal and commitment to the important work we face in the coming year.”
Trujillo, like many students from out of state, has a flight planned for early January to get back before Winter Quarter begins and after the holiday season, and hopes her traveling goes a little smoother than what she might expect next week.
“If other people or other students are flying back around New Years, it’s the same thing — just be safe, bring double masks and just protect yourself as best as you can,” she said. “Hopefully by January 1 when I'm flying back I won’t have to worry about unvaccinated TSA agents.”
By Kate Linderman
End of quarter updates
Finals begin Wednesday November 17 and conclude on Tuesday November 23 according to the academic calendar. Regular day and evening classes conclude tomorrow November 16. The final exam schedule can be found here.
For students studying on campus late into the night, DePaul is offering a special transportation service beginning today and ending Thursday November 18. “Vinny Vans” offer free transportation from the Lincoln Park Campus to their apartments until 2 a.m. each day. Students can be transported as far north as Addison and as far south as Sedgwick. Pick up is in front of John T. Richardson Library on Kenmore St..
Short-term parking is available in the Sheffield parking garage for $40 from November 24 to January 2. Permits can be purchased in Schmitt Academic Center 177.
DePaul to welcome 10 students displaced from Afghanistan
DePaul is in the process of welcoming 10 students displaced by the crisis in Afghanistan. Working with RefugeeOne, DePaul student organizations, faculty and staff are organizing educational opportunities and resources for the 10 incoming students.
According to Newsline, “Upon their arrival this month, students will enroll immediately in DePaul’s English Language Academy, a full-time intensive English program for international students. Faculty will assess students’ English proficiency and academic interests. They will then be able to transfer into the undergraduate program of their choice.”
DePaul community members wishing to contribute support or supplies can email Emily Kraus at email@example.com.
No DPU Alert for unauthorized person with gun on Loop Campus
On November 4, an unauthorized person brought a gun into the Maggie C. Daley building on the Loop campus according to the DePaulia and a Public Safety report. Police were contacted but DePaul Public Safety elected not to alert the DePaul community through DPU Alert.
University Counseling Services rebrand, new programs
University Counseling Services Director Tow Yau presented his new department initiatives to the Student Government Association during their November 11 meeting. According to the DePaulia, Yau presented a future department name change, extended hours and extended services including group therapy and telehealth. Yau did not provide a timeline for these initiatives.
In the meeting, Yau said that UCS is moving forward with applications for new staff, and could have new counselors by December or January, with more full-time staff by Fall Quarter 2022.
Lastly, here is your weekend sports recap (November 13 to 14):
The men’s basketball team defeated Central Michigan 99-66 on Saturday
The women’s volleyball team defeated Xavier 3-1 on Sunday
By Grace Del Vecchio
Chicago Police Union President Resigns — A three-day hearing was scheduled today which could have determined Federal Order of Police President John Catanzara’s termination by the Police Board; however, he never saw the stand, resigning earlier today. Catanzara had already been stripped of his badge and gun and had numerous charges brought against him prior to the hearing. Read more from Heather Cherone of WTTW.
Austin’s Laramie State Bank is Becoming a Museum — The historic site located at 5200 W. Chicago Ave., is destined to be transformed into a museum, business incubator and cafe but before that’s possible, the building must undergo substantial repairs. Pascal Sabino of Block Club Chicago has the details.
Community Organizations Help Kids Get Vaccinated — The City of Chicago announced its goal to have 77 percent of children age 12 and up vaccinated by the end of the year and it has recruited community organizations to help accomplish it. Josephine Stratman takes a look at the outreach strategy for South Side Weekly.
Chicago Aldermen Must Pass New Ward Maps — Members of Chicago’s City Council risk spending their Thanksgiving together as the deadline to produce Chicago’s new ward maps falls on Black Friday. However, amongst the deliberations, residents are fighting to have input with a “People’s Map.” Mariah Woelfel of WBEZ has the story.
By Ally Daskalopoulos
Gun Charges Dropped in Rittenhouse Trial — Kenosha Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor gun charge against 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse today during trial. The charge represents the easiest charge for prosecutors to prove against Rittenhouse. However, because of the law’s confusing language it can be interpreted differently. Because of this, Judge Schroeder ruled in favor of the defendant. Christy Gutokski and Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune report the details.
Biden Signs Infrastructure Bill into Law — President Biden signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law today. The new law will allow for improvement in America’s roads, ports and power lines. The bill was approved with bipartisan support and serves as a victory for both Democrats and Republicans. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times has the full story.
Stephen Bannon Surrenders — The former White House advisor under former president Trump was indicted last week for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. The subpoena comes from the House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. Today, Bannon surrendered and was released from federal custody on his own personal recognizance after his court hearing. He was not arraigned, and no plea was entered into the court record. Spencer Hsu and Tom Jackman of the Washington Post tell us more.
Harvard Newspaper gets First Latina President — Harvard University’s 148 year old newspaper, the Crimson, has elected its first Latina president, Raquel Coronell Uribe. Coming from a family of journalists, the history and literature major from Miami will begin her post in January. Joe Hernandez of NPR tells the full story.
Hey, Check This Out!
With Featured Columnist Emily Soto
Welcome back everyone! For those of you returning, I know I told you that I would be recommending the best of Radio DePaul this week, but I want to actually talk first, about two pieces that caught my eye from 14 East this quarter. (You’re reading our newsletter, so why not?)
First up is a look into what life is like for students in isolation. As students made their way back to campus, the university prepped for the inevitable chance that students living in the dorms would contract COVID-19 and would have to provide a space for students to quarantine. So Elly Boes asked the questions other students had on their minds. What was life really like for these students? How did the university handle moving and other procedures? And did professors work with students to accommodate the situation? As someone who lives off campus and rarely deals with university procedures outside of classes anymore, it was eye-opening to see what other students have had to experience because of the pandemic. Also interesting to learn was how these specific procedures could affect every student’s upcoming school year.
Next, as someone who loves movies and the cinema, it’s been a bit sad for me to watch as movies make the move to premiering on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. To me, it just isn’t the same experience. This piece by Aidan Piñon discusses just that. Piñon is a fellow lover of the cinema and talks about how mainstream theaters, like AMC, all the way to art houses like the Music Box Theatre, are handling the impacts of streaming services and the pandemic. He also considers what the production companies have done in this situation. In the end, although there are significant scars left on the industry, I hope you finish the piece with the same sense of urgency I had, to go see another movie at a theater.
That’s all for this week! Oh, and I promise I didn’t forget about Radio DePaul. Keep an eye out for that rec soon!
The Illinois Housing Development Authority periodically offers rental payment programs which send vouchers directly to landlords to subsidize rent costs. The program is currently closed to new applicants. However, housing stability service providers are offered year-round. Check out the resources here.
The city of Chicago’s Rental Assistance Program provides funding for Chicagoans who are at risk of becoming homeless.
Rentervention is a legal-aid bot that can answer questions, draft letters and explain tenant rights. See how it can help you here.
Cook County also provides rental assistance for renters. See if you qualify and for how much here.
COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Resources
All of these testing sites and vaccination sites can be accessed for free and without insurance.
Howard Brown offers free, walk-in COVID-19 viral and antibody testing at multiple locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, in addition to mobile testing sites that are updated weekly. The organization also offers the Moderna vaccine for individuals 18 and older. You can check all of their current COVID-19 resources here.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the city of Chicago offer free COVID-19 testing sites in the city and surrounding counties, which are listed with more information here. IDPH also offers COVID-19 vaccines to all residents 12 years and older. Call 833-621-1284 to schedule an appointment.
The city of Chicago partnered with the Community Organized Relief Effort 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 its COVID-19 testing program with more mobile sites, which change weekly. More info here.
Know someone 12 years of age or older who has yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccine? Check out appointments via Zocdoc, the city of Chicago’s Vaccine Finder or pharmacy websites such as Walgreens and CVS.
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 directories and other online resources.
The Center on Halsted offers behavioral health, anti-violence and educational resources for LGBTQ+ 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. The master list includes specific resources as well as protesting tips and donation links.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago who provide services for under $75.
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, ext. 9081 to schedule an intake appointment (counseling is not religious-centered).
That’s all for tonight, stay warm and to our fellow DePaul students, get some sleep this finals week!
The 14 East Newsletter Team