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Sick People Ordered To Stay Home Or Face Fines As Coronavirus Hits 151 Cases In Chicago

Police and the Department of Public Health can and will cite people who violate the order, according to the Mayor's Office.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at City Hall in February 2020.
Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Sick Chicagoans are being ordered to stay home indefinitely as the city tries to stem the tide of coronavirus cases.

The order from the Department of Public Health applies to people formally diagnosed with coronavirus and those who just have symptoms of the illness, according to the Mayor’s Office. They’ll have to stay at home and cannot go to work or any group settings.

Police and the Department of Public Health can and will fine people who violate the order, according to the Mayor’s Office.

“We have repeatedly asked throughout this crisis that if you are sick, stay home. Most of you have listened, but some have not,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Thursday night address to the city. “And those of you that have not have not only put yourselves at risk — you are endangering the public.

“… If you violate this order, there will be consequences.”

Residents who are sick will be allowed to seek “essential services, including clinical care of evaluation, and life sustaining needs, such as obtaining medicine or food,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

Those who are ordered to stay at home and don’t have access to food options should call 311.

There is no end date for the order as of yet.

“I know these restrictions are causing hardships, but we are doing this to save lives, pure and simple,” Lightfoot said. “We have seen what these extreme measures have yielded in places like Japan and Singapore. Those countries have started bending the arc of the virus.”

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, lung and sinus congestion, body aches, a sore throat and unusual fatigue, according to the Mayor’s Office.

So far, there have been 151 cases of coronavirus in Chicago and 422 across all of Illinois.


Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

The CDC only recommends those are already sick wear facemasks because they help you avoid spreading the virus.

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where corona is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been advised to stay home.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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