If you are sick and go out, you could face a $500 fine. Credit: Pexels

CHICAGO — City officials have ordered all sick people to shelter in place.

The order, which comes from the Chicago Department of Public Health, was announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday. It enforces what Lightfoot and other officials have said throughout the crisis: People should stay home, especially if ill, to prevent the spread of the virus.

“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.”

So far, Illinois has 422 confirmed cases of coronavirus and there have been four deaths. In Chicago, there are at least 151 confirmed cases of the virus.

Here’s what you need to know about the order:

What Does The Order Say?

The shelter in place order says anyone with coronavirus or symptoms of illness must shelter “in their place of residence,” or home.

Those who fall under this order are also being asked to stay away from family members as much as possible while inside the home.

People to whom the order applies cannot go to work or congregate with others outside.

Who Has To Stay Home?

Anyone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus is being ordered to stay home — but the order casts an even wider net than that since testing is still not widespread.

The order also applies to anyone who is simply showing symptoms of coronavirus. That means anyone with these symptoms (or others):

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lung and sinus congestion
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Unusual fatigue

What Are The Consequences?

Anyone who violates the order will be fined $100-$500 for each violation, according to the city municipal code.

For example, you could get fined up to $1,000 if you’re caught outside twice.

The Chicago Police Department and Department of Public Health will enforce the order.

Can You Go Outside At All?

Yes! Even if you are sick, you can still leave your home for “necessary clinical care or evaluation or for essential life-sustaining needs, such as obtaining medicine or food,” according to the order.

That means anyone with coronavirus or symptoms of the virus can still go out if they need to see a doctor, get medicine, get food, etc.

But remember: Officials want people to stay home as much as possible. If you feel ill, you should try to have someone deliver supplies to you rather than going out yourself.

And anyone who feels ill and wants to be tested for coronavirus should call a doctor or hospital first before going to any sort of medical office.

When Does This End?

Right now, there’s no end date for the order.

Read the order here:

[scribd id=452508232 key=key-k4KmswRSZiGrzb0JJIb1 mode=scroll]


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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