CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot drove around Chicago during the nice weather Tuesday, yelling at people to go home whenever she saw crowds.
Lightfoot, speaking at a Wednesday press conference, again told people to stay home as much as possible amid the pandemic. And she told a story about how on Tuesday, when the weather hit the 70s, she personally drove around, telling people who were outside to break up crowds and practice social distancing to avoid spreading coronavirus.
Lightfoot’s tale amused many, who shared it on social media. The mayor has gained attention for memes — which popped up after she shut down the city’s Lakefront Trail and other popular trails — that show her sternly protecting the city from coronavirus and telling people to stay home.
“I personally drove around yesterday, and I was up on the North Side, in the 50th Ward, and I’ll continue to do that,” Lightfoot said. “I told people that I saw gathering in clusters not abiding by the social distancing rules to break it up. Yes. And I’ll continue to do that.
“I mean what I say: We have to protect ourselves. We have to be smart about what we’re doing in the course of this pandemic. And if it means that I drive around and check whether people are in compliance, I’m happy to do it.”
While talking to Bill Cameron for WLS-AM’s “Connected To Chicago” show airing at 7 p.m. Sunday, Lightfoot said people were surprised to see her, and would say “Was that the mayor?”
“The other night I think we literally broke up an underage drinking party,” Lightfoot told Cameron, according to the Chicago Tribune. “There were some young folks that were in a garage with the door up, it was a beautiful night, we pulled by and I told the driver, ‘Back up,’ rolled down the window and said, ‘Hey, you’re too close. Separate yourself. Social distancing!’”
So far, green space at the parks has remained open so people can get fresh air and exercise.
That’s OK, officials have said, just like it’s fine to take a short walk, jog or bike ride near your home so you can get outside the house.
But what’s not OK is people gathering at parks or other places, officials have said. Police have had to clear out Humboldt Park, Lincoln Park and other popular spots recently due to the crowds.
“This is not an issue of people going outside,” Lightfoot said Wednesday. “The issue we are addressing is people going well beyond that. And most importantly of all, congregating in a way that puts everyone involved at risk.
“You’re also putting an additional burden on our public safety resources, which are already strained in this time.”
So far, the Chicago Police Department has dispersed more than 2,000 groups, including 300 groups on Tuesday.
Chicago has had 6,099 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far, while there have been 15,078 confirmed cases throughout the state.
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