Illinois COVID-19 Update Thursday March 19

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced an order Thursday that all residents confirmed to have the COVID-19 virus, along with anyone experiencing symptoms, may not leave their place of residence, save for a few small exceptions.  “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,” Mayor Lightfoot said 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.” According to the Mayor’s Office this means anyone “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,” must stay home.  The exceptions to that rule are if a resident needs to access medical care or other necessary things like food and medicine.  “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,” said Dr. Allison Arwady Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “We’ve been working daily for well over two months now with our partners at the Centers 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.” It’s unknown at the moment how the Mayor’s Office plans to enforce those who violate the order.  Lightfoot also announced Thursday evening that all CPS schools will remain closed until at least April 21st.  “We need to give parents and guardians plenty of advance notice about this reality and the ability to plan,” Lightfoot said in an address that was televised and livestreamed. “CPS and the city will continue to support you in the ways that they have through these early days of the school closures.” On Wednesday, the mayor announced a temporary suspension of debt collection, ticketing for parking, red light and speed light camera violations, and utility bills.  Sheriff Tom Dart has suspended eviction orders until April 30th. Lightfoot thanked Dart for that move, and encouraged banks to grant relief from foreclosures, and asked landlords to give tenants “some grace.” “I call upon all property owners to give tenants some grace, wherever possible during these trying times,” Lightfoot said. “No one needs the added stress of evictions, certainly not now.” The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Thursday that three more Illinoisans have died due to the COVID-19 virus.  “I am saddened to announce three more people in Illinois with coronavirus disease have passed away,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We ask everyone to please, stay home as much as possible so we can reduce the number of people who are infected and potentially suffer serious illness, including death.” As of Thursday evening, 422 people in Illinois have tested positive, and four people have died.  Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced new statewide measures to help residents impacted by the pandemic, including sales tax deferrals for bars and restaurants, disaster assistance for small businesses in the form of low-interest loans, and an expansion of services that includes the removal of “administrative barriers for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).” For more information, please visit the Illinois Department of Public Health.
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Aaron Cynic