Tracking COVID on campus, Lightfoot's 2022 budget proposal and violence on campus
Plus recommendations for live, COVID-friendly events
Welcome back, newsletter-ers! It’s the newsletter team — Claire, Kate, Cam, Eiman, Elly, Brooks and Grace — bringing you this week’s news from DePaul, Chicago and beyond. We also have some steaming hot recommendations and a follow-up feature story about DePaul’s COVID-19 reporting system.
Enough from us, here’s your news for the week!
Tracking COVID’s spread across campus
Cam Rodriguez, Managing Editor
It’s week three at DePaul, and we’re off to a rocky start with regards to COVID-19 case counts on campus.
Since September 7, DePaul has announced 43 COVID-19 cases — 41 in students, and two in faculty or staff members. Relative to the total DePaul population, this might not seem significant, but it’s the speed and frequency of cases that raises some red flags.
In the past week and a half alone, approximately 33 COVID-19 infected people have been on campus — and because of a shift in policies, we don’t know where they’ve been.
We do know, though, where cases tend to happen. The CDC has identified that for higher-education institutions, communal areas tend to pose the highest level of risk for COVID-19 transmission. This includes places like dining halls, shared housing facilities (like dorms and residence halls) and areas where close-contact and indoor sports take place.
This doesn’t surprise Dr. Craig Klugman, a public health professor at DePaul who has worked on DePaul’s COVID-19 Taskforce.
“I think the areas at greatest risk are dorms because we tend to relax there — it’s not fun or comfortable to wear your mask in your home but when you share space with others and they have contact with people outside your household, wearing masks at home may be a smart move,” Klugman wrote in an email to 14 East. “I also think parties are a place where we could see some spread. Parties tend to be dense — people close together and mask use may slip when eating or drinking, so I worry about spread in that setting.”
Thankfully, with just over 99 percent of students being compliant with DePaul’s COVID-19 vaccination policies, the impact of the virus on campus will lessen over time.
Vice President for Student Affairs Gene Zdziarski, or Veep Gene, is optimistic.
“It’s been great to see how mindful DePaul students are of the university’s COVID-19 safety protocols. We’ve had a very positive response to our vaccine mandate, and students are doing a great job of wearing their masks indoors.”
Only time can tell how COVID will continue to unfold on campus. If you’ve tested positive, or know someone who has, Veep Gene (and us here at 14 East) encourages reporting the case to the university.
“In the spirit of Take Care DePaul, it’s important for all members of the DePaul community to know that their behaviors on and off campus contribute to everyone’s safety. Students are important partners in DePaul’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts and their vigilance adds to the strength of our collective efforts.”
College of Computing and Digital Media Dean David Miller announced on September 10 that he will be stepping down as dean at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. Miller has been at DePaul for 40 years and is one of the founding members of the computer science department, according to Newsline. Though Miller has been teaching for many years, he told the DePaulia that he will not be retiring and that he is going to take time to figure out the next steps in his career. In the meantime, Newsline reported that the university will be searching for Miller’s replacement.
This weekend, a DePaul student was stabbed in an armed robbery on the 900 block of West Webster, near the Lincoln Park Campus. In light of this incident and others that have occured recently, DePaul Public Safety officers will take heightened measures during their patrols around campus. In a notification sent out by Public Safety, officials encouraged students to take safety precautions such as familiarizing themselves with campus safety resources and using the DePaul Safety Escort Service for transportation on the Lincoln Park Campus between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
In other news, registration for the All For DePaul Fun Run from October 10-18 is now open. Proceeds from the event go to the Finish Line Fund, a fund that provides financial assistance to DePaul students to complete their degrees. Sign up here.
Lastly, per DePaul’s academic calendar, the final day to drop classes without penalty is tomorrow, Tuesday September 21.
Mayor Lightfoot proposed her 2022 budget today, one month earlier than the regular schedule. This comes with calls to fund communities with the federal COVID-19 grant money, which totals nearly $1.9 billion. Gregory Pratt and John Byrne of the Chicago Tribune.
Gun violence continues to pose concern for the city of Chicago, with 5 people injured in a mass shooting on the West Side early Sunday. Police are investigating. Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas of the Chicago Tribune.
In a 33-13 vote, Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to ease zoning requirements for marijuana sales throughout the city passed. Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun Times has the details.
Beginning in November, the Biden administration will lift bans on international travelers entering the United States, provided they are fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 before flying. Additionally, airlines will be required to obtain contact information for a new contract-tracing system, according to the New York Times’ update.
Border Patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas denied entry to Haitian migrants Sunday with flights expelling more than 12,000 people set to begin this Wednesday. In a recent AP News article, many said they were fleeing the devastating effects of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the Tiburon Peninsula off the southern coast of Haiti last August.
Today federal prosecutors rested their case against accused sex trafficker R. Kelly, a trial which has lasted five weeks and called upon dozens of witnesses. Kelly’s lawyers will begin presenting their defense today, NPR reports.
Wildfires in California overwhelmed portions of the state’s protected Sequoia National Forest Sunday, scorching over 3,000 square miles in total this year. Noah Berger of AP News has the details.
The Infinite Wrench is back and COVID safe! For those who don’t know, The Infinite Wrench is a theatrical performance put on twice a week by the ensemble The Neo-Futurists, in which they perform 30 entirely-original plays in 60 minutes. I went to my first one of their shows last night, and after having not seen any live theatre in quite some time, was deeply moved by the troupe’s honesty and commitment. The show’s are not necessarily comedic, and in general, hard to describe tonally, so go in without many expectations, and rejoice in seeing a performance that will never exist again.
If you’re hungry for something tasty in Argyle, check out Immm Rice and Beyond! They’re one of my favorite Thai restaurants in the city, serving absolutely delicious Thai street food that accommodates various allergies and dietary restrictions. If you’re a student on a budget, try going before 3:00 p.m. for their lunch special!
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.
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 to see what is available in or around your ZIP code.
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).
And that’s a wrap on this week's newsletter! We’ll be back on Monday with more DePaul updates, Chicago news and top-tier recommendations to start your week.
The 14 East Newsletter Team