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Chicago daily roundup: Jury selection begins for Jussie Smollet's trial, a Sandhill Crane rescue, Omicron, & more news

Jennifer Geer

(CHICAGO) Welcome to the daily roundup for Monday, November 29. What's happening in Chicago today?

Today is Cyber Monday, the day Americans sit at their desks and search for deals online. Early estimates put total spending to be between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion.

In Chicago today, jury selection begins for the Jussie Smollet trial, Chicago health officials brace for the new omicron variant, and a Sandhill Crane was rescued from starvation on Friday due to plastic wrapped around its beak.

And finally, remember to shop local this holiday season. Block Club Chicago gives its "ultimate guide" for gift ideas from Chicago stores.

Jussie Smollett to go on trial in alleged hoax attack that once captivated Chicago

Today jury selection begins for the former Empire star, Jussie Smollett. In a case that brought international media attention to Chicago, Smollett is accused of making a false report to police that he was a victim of a homophobic and racist attack in January 2019.

According to the Tribune, there is one question jurors will need to answer, "Did Smollett, in fact, stage the phony hate crime on himself?"

Could omicron be in the U.S.? Here's what Chicago is doing to prepare for the new COVID variant

The new omicron variant discovered in South Africa has set the world on edge. Although no cases have been detected in the U.S., in addition to South Africa, the virus has been detected in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel.

Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, said in a statement,

"We are watching the Omicron variant very carefully. We don't know if the variant has reached the United States, but given the global concern about the virus, it is more important than ever to continue to follow public health recommendations: Mask Up, Wash Your Hands, Stay Physically Distant, and most importantly, get vaccinated and get your booster as soon as you are eligible. The longer people do not get vaccinated, the risk of deadlier variants increases."

Volunteers rescue Sandhill Crane with plastic around its beak

Volunteers from the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors rescued a Sandhill Crane found in Evanston on Friday with a piece of plastic wrapped around its beak. The plastic prevented the bird from being able to eat.

Volunteer, Scott Judd told the Chicago SunTimes the bird was likely one of 20,000 Sandhill Cranes that was spotted flying over Chicago on November 22 on their way to warmer climates.

The ultimate guide to shopping local in Chicago for the holidays in 2021

Thanksgiving is over and it's time to get serious about those holiday gifts. This year, local businesses need community support more than ever after surviving through the pandemic.

You can start by checking out Block Club Chicago's guide to shopping local where Block Club's reporters reached out to over 140 small businesses to get the details on holiday shopping.

"Our local gift guide should take care of everyone on your list, whether they’re a bookworm, a runner, a coffee aficionado, a snazzy dresser or a city kid."

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

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