By Elisa Shoenberger, April 29, 2020

Northwestern Memorial testing sarilumab as treatment for COVID-19

Northwestern Memorial is one of several hospitals testing the drug sarilumab to help with critically ill COVID-19 patients. Northwestern began enrolling patients on March 22nd. According to a statement by the hospital, a key component of the body’s inflammatory response to COVID-19 is the IL-6 receptor and the drug is an IL-6 inhibitor. Sarilumab is currently used to help people with medium to severe rheumatoid arthritis and is known under the brand name Kevzara. Northwestern is also working to develop better COVID-19 tests, as well as other clinical trials with remdesivir used to treat Ebola.

Chef Jose Andrés partners with Chicagoans to feed health care workers

Celebrity chef and humanitarian Jose Andrés has partnered with chef Lamar Moore and Fifty/50 Restaurant Group (behind West Town Bakery and The Berkshire Room in River North) to feed Chicago’s frontline healthcare workers. In mid-April, they delivered 100 meals to nurses at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. Andrés is best known for his Nobel prize nomination-worthy efforts to feed people during natural disasters like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The effort supports restaurant employees working during the Illinois-wide shutdown. Moore explains to Eater that he was thrilled to work with Andrés. 50/Fifty is also working on two food relief programs to help out their fellow Chicagoans. The group aims to feed 10,000 healthcare workers each week.

Fox Valley Auto Group helps out Chicago nurses with free car loans

The Fox Valley Auto Group is loaning free cars to nurses at Lurie Children’s Hospital. The company recognizes the strain and sacrifices that many nurses are facing during the coronavirus crisis so they are helping in the way they can. At least 11 cars are currently being used. The Auto Group points out that many nurses ride buses and trains or walk long distances to get to work. Right now, with concerns about the virus, those methods of transportation may add additional stresses to an already tense situation. The Auto Group says it has more cars to loan to other hospital networks as needed.

Renovations begin at Lake Shore and Seneca parks

In March, Alderman Brian Hopkins announced that plans to renovate Streeterville Parks would begin. While parks across the city are closed by mayoral order, work on the parks has already begun. Phase 1 includes the renovation of Eli M. Schulman Playground with a projected completion date of the fall of 2020. Phase 2 will include Seneca Park. Lake Shore Park will see new playground equipment including a swing compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The playground is named for the late Eli M. Schulman, famed restaurateur and civic leader behind steak restaurant Eli’s.

Despite the closures, local bookstores try to hold on

Since Governor Pritzker implemented the shelter-in-place order, bookstores and other businesses are trying to keep the doors from shutting forever. Volumes Bookstore, with branches in Streeterville and Wicker Park, has been providing books to people through delivery or limited pickup from their locations. For March and part of April, the bookstore offered free delivery. However, in a recent communication, the bookstore acknowledged that while the orders have been coming in, they are still figuring out how to keep the business running. The free shipping has come to an end since they are not seeing the volumes to justify it, but paid shipping will continue. There is a GoFundMe for the bookstore. But while there is a lot at stake, Volumes is also putting up story-times and other book-related content for its patrons on their Facebook page.

Event cancellations begin to roll in for late Spring and Summer

Major music festivals and more have been canceled this summer, due to concerns over the new coronavirus. The 5th Annual Chicago House Music Conference & Festival , the 35th Chicago Gospel Music Festival, DCASE’s Chicago In Tune, and the 37th Annual Chicago Blues Festival, as well as Chicago Memorial Day Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony, have been cancelled, according to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office. These events may just be the tip of the iceberg, as Governor Pritzker has extended his shelter in place order until May 30th. The governor has already called for other summer events to be cancelled. Mayor Lightfoot has extended Chicago’s celebration of “Year of Chicago Music” until 2021 as a result of the cancellations.

Horse-drawn carriage ban to go into effect in January 2021

The City Council voted to ban horse-drawn carriages in Chicago. The Committee on License and Consumer Protection approved the proposal in March and the City Council voted in April to pass the ordinance. Alderman Brendan Reilly supported the ban because of concerns about animal safety and traffic problems. Under the ordinance, the city would not renew or issue new licenses for the purposes of horse-drawn carriages. The industry has been hard hit over the years—currently there are only 10 licenses for three companies. Previously there were 60, according to the Sun-Times. Animal rights groups are lauding the decision while horse-drawn carriage operators and others in the industry are displeased with the ban.

Top photo: Seneca Park by Elisa Shoenberger


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