EVANSTON — Yesterday, an ad-hoc committee at Northwestern University concluded that the essential workers at Portillo’s and Al’s Beef restaurants should be first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The board, made up of distinguished epidemiologists, ethicists, and amateur food critics, said the decision was unanimous after trying both a Portillo’s chocolate cake shake and a dipped beef sandwich from Al’s.
“We were split between Portillo’s and Al’s Beef. Oh, and hospital workers, too, I guess,” says virologist and panel member Dr. Jon Krinkle, 39, in between bites of a regular beef double-dipped hoagie. “There were lots of disagreements at first, but then we decided to just compromise and give it to both Al’s and Portillo’s employees. I may not know what goes in the vaccine, but I sure know what’s in the chocolate cake shake—and that’s the breakthrough Chicagoans care about.”
“We looked at where the demand was needed, and we concluded thusly,” says Cherrish Peters, 26, a food critic, as she wolfed down a Portillo’s hot dog. “There were always going to be people unhappy with the decision. But no one is unhappy with a large fry from Al’s.” She reasoned that most Chicago residents want to see a return to normal, and a Portillo’s combo meal with their name on it by and large constitutes a Chicagoan’s idea of “normal.”
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“Now, I’m no moral authority or anything,” says Dr. Whey Gordon, 44, an ethicist tapped for the committee who was working through her second dipped beef as she spoke. “But it would be immoral to neglect the lifesaving, and extremely savory, work these brave employees have been doing since February. What kind of a society would we be if we didn’t repay those who put their lives on the line to give us delicious dipped beef therapeutics?”
For now, the committee is offering advice to the public anxiously awaiting a vaccine, which isn’t slated to be released to non-essential workers until May of 2021. “Always ask for a cup of sauce on the side, because they give that to you for free,” the written report reads. “And wear a mask in between bites, but you can also dip your mask in the au jus for a little something extra.”