Free tests / ‘Race-neutral’? Not / Chicago ‘news experimentation’

Free tests. Beginning Saturday, private health insurers will have to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for their customers.
The First Aid Kit newsletter rounds up web-based tracking bots that can help you locate those increasingly in-demand tests.
The Late Show mockingly introduces “The BinaxNow Home Idiocy Test.”
Why are grocery stores running low on so many things? The Washington Post says one reason is that COVID’s surge means more people eating at home.

Omicron dominant. A month after its first identification in Chicago, the omicron variant has been fingered in more than 90% of the city’s new cases.
Cook County Jail’s experiencing its biggest outbreak yet.
Ex-Tribune columnist Mary Schmich got it.

Back to school. Chicago kids return to class Wednesday …
 … under a fraught pandemic deal between Mayor Lightfoot’s administration and Chicago Teachers Union leadership …
 … but, Politico’s Shia Kapos says, “Ronald Reagan and the Soviets were on friendlier terms.”
Patch: The teachers union has been “collecting a list of scabs, and threatening teachers who show[ed] up at schools with yet-to-be-determined punishment.”

‘Between the COVID surge and the black ice, there were just no beds.’ The hockey-friendly conditions on Chicago-area streets and sidewalks strained an already overburdened health care system …
 … but it hasn’t been cold enough to kill off the larvae of tree-killing emerald ash borer beetles.
The Conversation reviews 2021’s biggest climate disasters.
For the sixth year in a row, ocean temperatures reached historic highs in 2021.

‘Race-neutral’? Not. ProPublica’s analysis finds Chicago’s traffic cameras disproportionately ticket Black, Latino and low-income drivers.
With temperatures down and homelessness up, a nonprofit devoted to helping the needy find shelter tells WTTW, “This is the worst we’ve ever seen it.”

‘Behind all the bear spray and antler hats …’ Esquire’s Charlie Pierce says new evidence from the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection reveals “a whole posse of ostensible public servants allegedly operating to steal the election.”
A sweeping education bill that would keep schools from teaching a variety of concepts related to sex, race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, color, or national origin—sponsored by a guy who called for teachers to “remain impartial” when discussing Nazism—is up for a vote in the Indiana Senate tomorrow.
President Biden travels to Georgia this afternoon to endorse Senate filibuster reform in support of voting rights protections …
 … but Georgia progressives fear it’ll just be a “photo-op” visit with little bite.
Political analyst Lauren Martinchek: Bernie Sanders’ critiques of the Democratic Party “are absolutely correct.”

Chicago ‘news experimentation.’ Writing for Northwestern University’s Local News Initiative project, ex-Trib and Sun-Times editor Mark Jacob* surveys the “dramatic restructuring” sweeping through the city’s media landscape.**
Ex-Chicago Public Media and WBEZ chief Goli Sheikholeslami is taking over as CEO of Politico Media Group.
Personal note: Veteran newsman Dick Stone, who launched many Chicago journalists’ careers—and gave your Chicago Public Square columnist his first Chicago radio pay as a stringer for WIND-AM—is dead at 80.
* At the Trib, a colleague to yours truly.
** Square gets a kind one-sentence nod therein.

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