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Lightfoot: ‘Got to see a lot more progress’ before considering May reopening

Mayor Lori Lightfoot commented after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, said reopenings could start ‘in some ways, maybe next month.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, April 12, talking about COVID-19 deaths and racial disparities and when the economy can reopen.
Screen grab from CBS

Mayor Lori Lightfoot declined to forecast on Sunday when the COVID-19 lockdown will end in Chicago, saying the city needs to make more progress. Lightfoot, appearing on “Face the Nation,” made her comments after Dr. Anthony Fauci said there could be a rolling opening of the economy in May.

“We cannot open up the economy until we make sure that we got all the health care controls in place,” Lightfoot said when asked about the prediction made by Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director.

“That means widespread testing, contact tracing, and we got to see not just a flattening of the curve but a bending down. We are trending in the right direction here in Chicago,” Lightfoot said.

“We started out seeing that cases were doubling every one to two days, then every three to four. We’re now on a trend of nine to 10, but we’ve got to see a lot more progress on the health care front before we can even start talking about a reopening the economy,” she said.

The coronavirus outbreak has devastated the U.S. economy with stay-at-home orders issued by governors in most states, throwing millions out of work and threatening the survival of many businesses.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci was asked by host Jake Tapper when the U.S. can start reopening.

“I think it could probably start, at least in some ways, maybe next month,” Fauci said. “And, again, Jake, it’s so difficult to make those kinds of predictions, because they always get thrown back at you if it doesn’t happen, not by you, but you know by any of a number of people.

“We are hoping that, at the end of the month, we could look around and say, ‘OK, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on?’ If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down. And that’s what, at least for me standpoint of the public health aspect, that we look at. Other decisions are going to have to be made at the level of the president and the governors about what they are going to do with all of the information they get.

“The only thing I and my colleagues in public health and medicine can do is to give a projection of the kinds of things that may or may not happen when you make these steps,” he said.

Reopening: Not like flipping a light switch

President Donald Trump said last week, “Hopefully we’re going to be opening up — you can call it “opening” very, very — very, very soon, I hope.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, when asked at his Saturday briefing about a timetable, declined to make a prediction, saying he will be guided by the data, advice by epidemiologists and consultations with other governors facing the same reopening decision.

Fauci said on CNN, “It is not going to be a light switch that we say, ‘OK, it is now June, July or whatever, click, the light switch goes back on.’ It’s going to be depending where you are in the country, the nature of the outbreak that you have already experienced and the threat of an outbreak that you may not have experienced. So, it’s going to — having to look at the situation in different parts of the country.”

Lightfoot on African-American deaths in Chicago

A national discussion of COVID-19 racial inequality, jumpstarted after Chicago revealed data showing that as of a week ago, 70% of the 86 Chicagoans who died were African American – in a city that is about 30% black. Last Monday, Lightfoot issued a “public health red alarm” to address the racial disparity.

Lightfoot said on “Face the Nation” the situation is “not unique to Chicago, unfortunately. We’re seeing similar kinds of numbers reported across the country in large urban centers.”

CODVID-19 causes a disproportionate amount of black deaths “because of the underlying conditions that people of color, particularly black folks suffer from, whether it’s diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the kind of thing that we’ve been talking about for a long time that plague black Chicago that lead to life expectancy gaps — this virus attacks those underlying conditions with a vengeance.”