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It’s Too Soon To Cancel Summer Events In Chicago, Lightfoot Says

Still, the city will do what is needed to keep people safe, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

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Brittany Sowacke/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it’s too soon for the city to tell if it will cancel large summer events due to the pandemic.

Lightfoot, speaking at a Friday news conference, said it’s simply “too soon” to talk about events that will happen in July and August. Gov. JB Pritzker said a day earlier he thinks all large events planned for the summer should be canceled to limit the spread of coronavirus.

But Lightfoot said the city will make those decisions closer to the summer.

“A lot of that’s gonna depend on what the data tells us. As I said, we are making some progress, but the progress is gonna be dependent on people remaining at home. I think we have a long way to go before we start looking at events in July and August,” Lightfoot said. “We certainly haven’t had any substantive conversations.

“If it’s necessary, we will take the steps to keeping people safe, but we’re still very much in the midst of this epidemic, this pandemic. We’re still seeing cases rise. But I think it’s too soon for us to predict where we’re gonna be down the road.”

The governor tempered his comments on Friday, saying he was warning organizers to brace for it, but ultimately he will base any recommendations on scientific data and advice.

“Look, yesterday I was trying to address the question of whether people should be thinking about what to do about their festivals over the summer,” the governor said. “And I was merely suggesting that people should contemplate, you know, ‘What if?’ Because we need to follow what the scientists and the doctors tells us. That’s the most important thing.

“We’ve got to save as many lives as possible. And that’s going to help to dictate what the answers to the questions are. It’s not about what I’m saying at the podium on any given day,” he said. “So I’m going to follow that advice.”

Chicago has been a hot spot for coronavirus with 6,619 confirmed cases so far. There have been 16,422 cases confirmed throughout the state.

Officials have banned large gatherings throughout Illinois; closed schools, bars and restaurants; and enacted a stay at home order while repeatedly urging people to practice social distancing. Those are the best ways to prevent coronavirus from spreading further and claiming more lives, officials have said.

And on Thursday, Pritzker said it was unlikely he’d lift the state’s stay at home order before April 30 and doesn’t think there should be large gatherings of people before a vaccine is developed.

“From my perspective today, I don’t see how we’re going to have large gatherings of people, again, until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away. I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere,” Pritzker said Thursday. “And I think that’s hard for everybody to hear, but that’s just a fact.

“Even with testing and tracing and treating as is necessary for us to begin to make changes, it isn’t enough for me to say that it’s OK to have a big festival with a whole bunch of people gathering together.”

Lightfoot and Pritzker have said that while Chicago and Illinois are making progress in trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus, all of that will be thrown out the window if people start gathering again and don’t practice social distancing.

“We’re gonna do everything to make sure we keep people safe,” Lightfoot said. “I think there’s a lot of thresholds to meet before we feel comfortable lifting the orders that have been in place.”

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