Lightfoot to do what’s needed to stop ‘uptick’ in coronavirus cases among young people

As for again banning inside dining at bars and restaurants, the mayor said: “I’m not gonna take anything off the table. ... We’re not gonna hesitate to take the steps that are necessary if we continue to see a rise in that number.”

SHARE Lightfoot to do what’s needed to stop ‘uptick’ in coronavirus cases among young people
Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news conference at City Hall on Monday, June 22 to discuss details of the city’s plans to continue a cautious reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is concerned about coronavirus cases climbing among young people.

Sun-Times file

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she’s concerned about an “uptick” in coronavirus cases among young people and she is prepared to do whatever is necessary — including a retreat from reopening — to prevent it from continuing.

“I’m not gonna take anything off the table. I don’t think we’re at that point just yet. But I am deeply concerned because we’re starting to see this uptick … in the number of daily cases. … We’re not gonna hesitate to take the steps that are necessary if we continue to see a rise in that number,” she said.

Lightfoot famously shut down the lakefront in late March because Chicagoans couldn’t be trusted to maintain social distance. She reopened it last month, but only for activities including walking, running and biking — and with the admonition for those on the trail to “keep it moving.” Chicago’s beaches and Park District swimming pools remain closed.

On Monday, the mayor refused to say what specific actions she was prepared to take to stop the surge among young people, primarily ages 18 to 29; the next higher demographic, ages 30 to 39, also is of some concern.

Potential steps range from ordering restaurants and bars now operating at 25% capacity to stop serving indoor patrons to shutting down gyms and health clubs that are now operating, but under rigid rules that include requiring face masks while working out.

She would say only that the city is focusing heavily on the places that young people like to congregate.

Toward that end, a weekend enforcement team issued a dozen citations to six businesses accused of ignoring the city’s Phase 4 guidelines. One bar — Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse, 324 S. Racine — was shut down after being accused of operating over capacity, failing to maintain social distance, and serving patrons who were neither seated nor wearing face masks.

“We’re having a lot of conversations with bars and restaurants, other places of entertainment. And if we don’t see progress, then we’re gonna take some specific steps. But my hope always is to educate people into compliance. It’s not compliance for the sake of abiding by what the mayor says. It’s compliance to save your life and your health,” Lightfoot said.

“We all harken back to the time when we were that age. We felt like we were invincible. But this virus doesn’t discriminate. If you’re young, it’s still coming for you. And if you’re young and you’re out there and you’re not wearing face coverings — if you’re not social distancing — not only are you putting yourself at risk, you’re putting at risk every single person that you come in contact with, whether a stranger or a loved one in your home.”

CPS ‘engagement’ process to determine what school looks like in fall

At a Garfield Park news conference called to boost participation in the 2020 U.S. Census, Lightfoot shed no new light on the question front-and-center on the minds of Chicago parents: Whether Chicago Public Schools will reopen on time this fall to in-classroom learning and, if so, for how many days a week and with what safety measures?

The mayor did say CPS would soon announce a “framework for engagement” with parents and community stakeholders to determine “what in-person learning would look like this fall.”

What CPS does will “be dictated by what our public health metrics look like at that time. That’s got to be the No. 1 priority: Continuing to make sure that we are in a place to even have this conversation,” Lightfoot said.

“The best plans that I’ve seen around the country, not one of them can eliminate entirely the risk of a COVID infection. So we have to be realistic about … what we need to do to mitigate risk and mitigate the opportunities for spread. … I don’t see a world in which we’re gonna send kids back to school where they’re not gonna engage in social distancing and where masks are not gonna be a significant component of mitigating the spread of the virus.”

• The mayor also acknowledged third-party testing sites are “taking way too long” to provide results. She urged Chicagoans to avoid those problems by using city-run testing sites, where results will be delivered quickly and those testing positive will be “connected with a health care provider.”

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