Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday urged the Trump administration to postpone the 2020 U.S. Census, arguing there is “not enough bandwidth” to conduct the count while waging a national war against the coronavirus.
In the 2010 Census, Chicago’s 66% response rate was “among the worst participation levels” of any big city in the nation.
This year’s Chicago goal: an ambitious 75%. To do that, Chicago had planned to spend $2.7 million — $2 for every “hard-to-count” resident — to cut through what Lightfoot has called the cloud of fear created by immigration raids and a nixed citizenship question.
But then, a worldwide pandemic shuttered schools and businesses and brought everyday life to a standstill.
“We need all hands on deck to address this current crisis. And a lot of community-based organizations — and, candidly, folks on my team — have been re-purposed to focus on the needs of people in the city regarding the coronavirus issue,” Lightfoot said.
“We have to push back the census. There’s not enough bandwidth to be able to do both, particularly when what we’re talking about is going door-to-door, educating people. The libraries now are closed. So that avenue for filling out the digital applications isn’t available.”
Stay-at-home means just that, mayor says
During a City Hall news conference called to announce a plan to house quarantined patients and those awaiting test results in vacant hotel rooms, the mayor also admonished Chicagoans who blatantly disregarded the governor’s stay-at-home order.
“We saw some reports over the course of the weekend where some large parties were happening. We simply cannot have that. And as CPD did, we will shut these down,” the mayor said.
In addition to hoarding food and toilet paper, home-bound residents across the nation and in Chicago have been purchasing guns and ammunition in record numbers.
Lightfoot said she understands that “people are scared” and that the fear factor may well be driving the wave of gun and ammo purchases. But it’s also a scary thought in a city where guns are all too prevalent to begin with.
“I don’t want people taking the law into their own hands. That will lead to catastrophe and tragedy,” she said.
“The Police Department is on the job. Our first responders are responding. They are on the front lines and we’ve brought more resources to the districts so that we can meet the needs on every watch.”
Want a better federal response? ‘It’s not coming,’ mayor says
Lightfoot has lashed out at the Trump administration for the nightmare lines at O’Hare Airport a few weeks ago that put air travelers returning from Europe in close quarters, violating social distancing requirements.
Over the weekend, the mayor tweeted her support for Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his war of words with President Trump over the shortage of testing kits and protective equipment for Illinois’ health care professionals.
On Monday, the mayor was in no mood to escalate the war of words, calling it a waste of energy and time.
“What I think is important at this time is not to cast fingers of blame. We have a need that needs to be met. Residents of the city, the buck stops here. And I’m gonna make sure that our city is well protected, that we have a plan, that we are executing on a daily basis,” she said.
“Of course, we would like a better, more coordinated response from the federal government. But we’re two-plus months in. It’s not coming. I could sit here all day long and I could criticize everybody and their brother. But that doesn’t get the job done for the residents of Chicago.”