Photo by Morgan Elise Johnson | The TRiiBE

On Thursday (March 19), Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered all sick Chicagoans to stay home in an effort to prevent coronavirus spread. The mayor’s directive came the same day as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the number of statewide COVID-19 cases and deaths increased to 422 and four, respectively.

Under Lightfoot’s order, any Chicago resident diagnosed with COVID-19, or exhibiting symptoms of the virus, should not leave their home, go to work or attend any group settings. The only times sick Chicagoans can leave their home is to seek essential services, such as medical care or evaluation, or to grab food

“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 said in a press release.

Anyone who violates the public safety order could be subject to citations by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) or the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). 

“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 CDPH. “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.”

On Wednesday, Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb declared a local state of emergency. At the same time, Oak Park Public Health Director Mike Charley issued a public order requiring residents to “shelter in place” through April 3.

Image courtesy of the Village of Oak Park [Twitter]

On Thursday, when asked if Chicago will go under a “shelter in place” order, Lightfoot’s press office sent the following response via email:

“We are exploring a number of other measures to try to flatten the curve. Our guidance to the public continues to evolve as the latest science-based recommendations from health officials is released, and we are committed to providing updates as soon as we have them,” the statement read. “We continue to strongly urge those who are sick stay home to avoid compromising others.”

At his daily press briefing, Pritzker said on March 19 that his team is evaluating “shelter in place” every day. 

“Right now, case numbers are appearing to rise so rapidly because we are testing more,” he said. 

In the beginning, the state administered about 200 tests a day. Today, the state is administering more than 1,000 tests a day. Pritzker said the number of tests per day will increase to more than 2,000 in the next couple of days.

“That’s why we’re starting to see an increase in the number of positives,” Pritzker said. However, he added, he doesn’t want the public to think that Illinois isn’t also seeing increases in the number of people contracting the virus as well.

“Because that also is happening,” Pritzker said. 

According to Chicago health officials, COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of acute respiratory disease, including a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher, cough, shortness of breath, congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs, sore throat, body aches and unusual fatigue.

Image courtesy of the Chicago Department of Public Health