Lightfoot signs public health order: Chicagoans confirmed with coronavirus or showing symptoms ordered to stay home

Lightfoot signs public health order: Chicagoans confirmed with coronavirus or showing symptoms ordered to stay home

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a public health order on Thursday. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

The unprecedented order will be enforced by Chicago Police and the Department of Public Health. Violators will be cited for leaving their homes for anything other than essentials, such as food, medicine or doctors’ visits.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday ordered all Chicagoans with confirmed cases or coronavirus or who are exhibiting symptoms of the disease to stay home to prevent community spread of the pandemic.

The mayor took the unprecedented step by signing a public health order stating that those with confirmed cases or symptoms “may not leave their homes, go to work or meet in groups.

The only exception to the stay-at-home order is to seek “essential services, including necessary clinical care or evaluation and life sustaining needs” that include “obtaining food and medicine. Violators will be slapped with citations and fines by Chicago Police and the Department of Public Health.

“During this unprecedented crisis, we must move quickly and in the best interest of the public. Restricting the movements of those who have COVID-19 or who are symptomatic is the best way to prevent the virus from spreading further,” Lightfoot was quoted as saying in a press release.

“We are implementing today’s order to ensure a precise and data-driven response to the trends of this illness and, following recommendations by our City’s public health experts, believe that these heightened measures are necessary to contain the virus and protect our residents. We must be all in this together, and people who are sick must stay home to protect themselves and the public.”

The stay-at-home order will remain until Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady makes a written determination that the threat to public health posed has diminished,” City Hall said.

“This move may seem severe to some but in this highly evolving situation it’s absolutely what we need to do at this time as we work to contain this outbreak,” Arwady was quoted as saying.

“We’ve been working daily for well over two months now with our partners at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on tracking this virus and assessing its course, using data to inform our decisions and following the science. This is the right thing to do in this moment.”

The order defines “COVID-19 Illness” as “demonstrating symptoms of acute respiratory disease, including,but not limited to, new onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath, congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs, sore throat, body aches, or unusual fatigue.

It states that patients must be “free of fever (100.4° F (38.0° C) or greater using an oral thermometer), and any of the other symptoms described herein, for at least 72 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines that include cough suppressants.

Lightfoot has already canceled the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Wednesday’s City Council meeting in response to a pandemic that has closed schools, bars and dine-in restaurants and has turned downtown Chicago into a ghost town with most employees working from home.

She has ordered 60 public libraries closed, ordered a temporary moratorium on ticketing, towing, booting and debt collection to ease the financial burden on Chicagoans and promised more specific financial relief for restaurant workers and other hourly workers most impacted by the pandemic.

The mayor is scheduled to deliver a televised address at 5 p.m. Thursday to outline additional measures.

She has promised to pursue “additional measures as needed.” Already, at least three first responders—a Chicago Fire Department paramedic, an assistant deputy chief paramedic and an unspecified Chicago Police Department employee—have tested positive for the virus.

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