Arlington Heights Daily Herald. February 3, 2021.

Editorial: Vaccination offers a start toward normal life - but cautions apply

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is like the dawn of a new day for a lot of people.

In numbers relatively small but growing, they’re looking forward to a quick return to the time when they could snuggle with grandkids, go to the salon, party with the gang, get on the dance floor, host a family gathering, and hug, hug, hug.

The vaccine feels like a golden ticket.

In a way, it almost certainly is, but there are several things to take into account before immediately jumping back into your former life, no matter how much you long for it.

Unfortunately, that COVID-19 shot doesn’t give you instant protection. It’s not like a force field that suddenly engulfs you.

You’ll need a second vaccine, plus a week or two after that, to get to peak resistance. A study of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed people reached maximum immunity more than seven days after the second vaccine, which comes three weeks after the first shot. The wait for Moderna’s second shot is four weeks.

Data on the effectiveness after Dose 1 is less clear. Pfizer reports 52% effectiveness, with immunity building after Day 12. Others are slicing and dicing that data in different ways to reach different, controversial conclusions, some higher and some lower. But few dispute that your best protection comes after the second dose.

Also unknown: Whether an immunized person can spread the disease. After Dose 2, you may not need to wonder whether your grandkids will give COVID-19 to you, but can you still give it to your grandkids? That’s not clear, and it’s the reason you’ll still be asked to wear masks and be socially distanced for the months it will take to get everyone immunized.

Then there’s the wild card. New variants of the disease are popping up, and at least three have appeared in the U.S. Even as COVID-19 case rates are declining, scientists worry the variants could drive a new surge.

The vaccines offer protection against the UK, South African and Brazil variants, Dr. Anthony Fauci noted Monday during a White House briefing. While the vaccines are somewhat less effective at preventing illness caused by the variants, they can protect against getting the kind of severe case that leads to hospitalization and death, Fauci said.

The more contagious UK variant is likely to be dominant in the U.S. by March, some experts say, creating a race to vaccinate to prevent spread and head off new mutations.

Getting ahead of that really might be the golden ticket, so there’s plenty of reason to be glad if you’re immunized. Just be a bit cautious, and mindful of the safety of those who haven’t been so lucky.

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Chicago Sun Times. February 7, 2021.

Editorial: Repeal Illinois law that requires parents to be notified when a minor seeks an abortion

In too many homes, that’s just not safe or reasonable.

It would be nice if society could order up frank, respectful and loving discussions in every home by fiat.

But often, that’s just not how life works.

That’s the flaw in Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which requires that doctors who intend to perform an abortion for a minor give at least 48 hours of notice to an adult family member. In too many homes, such a notification could be disastrous.

It’s time to repeal this law. An effort to do so got no further than approval by a state Senate committee two years ago, but a new effort is expected to be introduced in the Legislature this week. And this time around, this editorial page — along with many of the most respected medical groups in the country — hopes to see a bill land on the governor’s desk.

In homes with responsible parents who have been reliably managing health care for their children all along, girls are wise to have an open discussion before making such a stressful decision, one that will have a deep impact on their lives. And, to be sure, girls in a majority of cases do tell their parents about an unplanned pregnancy. Or they confided in another family member or trusted adult.

But in too many other homes, that’s just not safe or wise. Vulnerable girls, who typically have few resources, fear they’ll be tossed out in the street if they say they want to get an abortion. And their fears, counselors say, are not unwarranted.

Sometimes, as well, it is a family member who has sexually abused the girl. In these cases, obviously, the legal requirement of parental notification can be an insurmountable barrier.

Recognizing this problem, the current state law requiring parental notification includes an exception — girls can instead make their case to a judge. And most of the time the judge does, indeed, approve the abortion.

But while this requirement may sound reasonable in theory, it is often prohibitive in practice, and not just because it is asking an awful lot of a young girl to stand before a judge and discuss the most intimate details of her life.

For a girl in school, it’s hard to get to court during daytime hours to see a judge. If the girl misses school to go to court, the school notifies her parents. The parents find out anyway, whether or not this is in the girl’s best interest or safe.

Transportation is a further practical complication. Public transit might not be available, but if the girl calls an Uber, the charge is likely to show up on her parents’ credit card. In a small town, she might be spotted at the courthouse, and word could get back to her parents.

The American Civil Liberties Union operates a hotline for girls in this predicament, but even that is complicated. Her parents might be monitoring her cellphone. And she would have to call at a time when she is not in school and her parents aren’t around.

For all these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the American Public Health Association oppose the parental notification law, which went into effect in 2013.

This is a complicated issue. Most states require some kind of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion, and some states require parental consent. Parents naturally want to know about something that affects their child so significantly.

But Illinois law already allows pregnant women or girls — not their parents — to decide whether to keep a baby or put it up for adoption. It is their decision alone, as well, whether to have certain doctor-recommended medical tests or a cesarean section.

Only when a girl decides to end her pregnancy does the government force her to involve her family.

If only every parent were responsible, caring and compassionate. We would not be writing this editorial. But we know better, as do you.

We urge you to call on the Illinois Legislature to repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act.

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Champaign News-Gazette. February 7, 2021.

Editorial: New boss, same old House

Is Illinois ready to embrace a new approach to governing?

Now that the king — former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan — has been dethroned, there’s considerable speculation about this state’s future.

Just for starters, it’s no surprise Madigan’s successor, Chicago-area state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, is enjoying a honeymoon period in which many people have adopted a hopeful attitude about the leadership he’ll bring to the General Assembly.

Welch is entitled to a chance to prove himself. But let’s not get too carried away.

For starters, Welch is a Madigan protege. Second, his name was among those on Madigan’s 2019 clout list of those seeking patronage jobs in the new Pritzker administration. Welch wanted Madigan to use his influence to get his wife and mother state jobs.

So meet the new boss, who might not be much different in many respects than the old boss.

Still, hope springs eternal, and so do recommendations for the policy changes needed to lift Illinois up from its current state of self-inflicted degradation.

The Chicago Tribune recently suggested three ways Welch can lead the state forward — spending restraint, honest budgeting and modification of House rules that open up the legislative process and permit members of both parties to participate.

The Illinois Policy Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank, came up with its own prescription for improvements.

It recommended real ethics and lobbying reforms, modifying Madigan’s restrictive legislative rules and stripping lawmakers of their current authority to draw — and gerrymander — legislative maps.

Generally speaking, those are sensible recommendations. But here’s the thing: As bad as some people thought Madigan was, he’s wasn’t the sole problem.

He maintained his iron grip on the House Democratic Caucus because, for the most part, he worked hard to keep them happy. Madigan protected them from political accountability on tough issues and mostly let them tax, spend and legislate as they wished.

Madigan cared most about maintaining his legislative majority and the power, perks and patronage that went with it. His obsession with patronage is at the root of his alleged role as power broker at the center of the Commonwealth Edison bribery scandal.

He cared much, much more about maintaining his power than passing sound policies. That’s one reason why the state has for years been spending money it didn’t have.

How is that going to change now that Madigan is no longer running the House? It’s hard to imagine legislators will suddenly change their policy preferences or that party leaders will try to convince them to do so.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has made it crystal clear that he has vast social-policy plans he wants passed. As for balancing the state’s budgets, the governor prefers to rely on tax increases and/or federal bailouts.

He didn’t get the big tax hike he wanted because voters emphatically rejected Pritzker’s progressive-income-tax amendment in the November election.

But the federal bailout he covets became a distinct possibility when Joe Biden was elected president.

Whatever happens, it’s clear that the state’s elected leaders remain pretty much committed — whether Madigan is present or absent — to continuing to do in the future what they have done in the past.

END