Credit: Colin Boyle/The White House

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the state’s stay at home order could last weeks longer than originally planned, with the state shut down “deep into April.”

Lightfoot, speaking at a Friday briefing with reporters, stopped short of giving a new date for an end to the stay at home order, saying she wouldn’t want to get ahead of Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration.

The order from Pritzker went into place over the weekend and is set to end April 7. But even when announcing it, the governor said April 7 would not necessarily be the true end date.

“You see what we’ve done here in Chicago with the schools, with the order we issued yesterday, which is unending until further notice,” Lightfoot said, referencing the city’s shutdown of the Lakefront Trail, 606 and Riverwalk. “I think, realistically, we’re looking at something that’s gonna stretch deep into April. Again, [that’s] subject to change and modeling and so far.”

Illinoisans have repeatedly pressed Pritzker and Lightfoot for when the order will be lifted, but Pritzker has shied away from giving a certain end date, saying the order could be extended if needed based on science and data to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Even earlier this week, when President Donald Trump said he’d like to see the country reopened and “raring to go” by Easter — which is April 12 — Pritzker and Lightfoot balked, saying it’d be too soon for Illinois, where coronavirus cases are growing exponentially.

Ultimately, the call to end the stay at home order will come from the governor’s office, though Lightfoot’s administration will have final say on local orders, like the shutdown of the Lakefront Trail.

Pritzker said during a Friday briefing that April 7 does remain the date the order covers for now — but officials are looking at that “every day.”

The governor’s team “are very able, they’re looking at very similar data to what we are,” Lightfoot said. “I’m sure that is a conversation that’s probably under active discussion.”

And Lightfoot again took aim at Trump, who criticized local officials’ calls for more ventilators. Governors and mayors across the country — including Pritzker and Lightfoot — have pressed for more supplies amid concerns hospitals will run out, leading to deaths.

So far, Chicago has had 1,489 confirmed cases of coronavirus, while there have been 3,026 confirmed cases in all of Illinois. Lightfoot warned earlier this week Chicago could see upward of 40,000 hospitalizations in coming weeks.

“We cannot afford in Chicago to be guided by anything that President Trump says. We just can’t,” Lightfoot said. “It’s not reliable. It’s not based on data or science.”

Starting two months ago, the city knew it would have to “chart our own course” without help from the federal government, Lightfoot said.

“If the federal government came in to help, great. But we were not gonna rely upon that,” Lightfoot said. “We keep a very close track on everything that’s going on in our hospitals: availability, ICU beds, equipment and so forth. We have a pretty good sense of that, really, on a day-to-day basis.”

For now, Chicago is fine, but it’s closely monitoring its supplies, Lightfoot said. The city would not turn away additional resources — “but we’re not waiting on the federal government for help,” she added.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, also said she has concerns about the federal government’s handling of supplies.

“Where we look at some of these dire projections [of cases in Chicago], I am very interested in the ability to have more ventilators available,” Arwady said. “I’ve noted that there have been ventilators that have gone to New York, for example, and I do not want to wait until the time we are potentially starting to really run up against our number of ventilators to be doing what we can to build that stock again.”

Arwady said it worries her the federal government is hesitating to spend money on stockpiling supplies. Faced with the price tag, Trump downplayed the need for ventilators on Fox News Thursday night. He reversed course Friday afternoon, demanding on Twitter General Motors “MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!”

Ventilators and other supplies should be part of the federal government’s strategic national stockpile, Arwady noted, and those supplies should be available to local governments when needed.

“It’s not clear to me whether that is available or true,” she said.

Lightfoot echoed Arwady’s concerns, questioning if the Trump government has been fulfilling its duty to procure and maintain medical supplies.

“Have they actually been doing the active procurement that one would expect to make sure the strategic national stockpile is in tip-top space, that it’s replenished, that the equipment is being kept in … climate-controlled conditions? [Those are] the kind of things we have done in the city of Chicago,” Lightfoot said. “One has to wonder what they’ve been doing over the last three years.”


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 or cough 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 COVID-19 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 ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.

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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