Chicago Mayor Tells Residents To Cancel Thanksgiving Plans In New Stay-At-Home Advisory

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that with the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, people should stay at home as much as possible and avoid having guests over.

Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a science initiative event at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. July 23, 2020 | Reuters
Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a science initiative event at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. July 23, 2020 | Reuters

The mayor of Chicago has issued a stay-at-home advisory for residents and is calling for people to cancel their Thanksgiving plans as the COVID-19 virus is surging in many parts of the country, including Illinois.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Thursday night a new advisory called “Protect Chicago” that will go into effect on Monday, November 16 and last for 30 days, or until the city Commissioner of Health determines a change. The mayor “strongly advises” that people stay home except for work, school, or to meet essential needs, and that they must wear a mask when outside in accordance with a previous city executive order. The advisory also strongly recommends that residents cancel their Thanksgiving plans and avoid travel or having guests over.  

The mayor’s office said the advisory is in place due to the “rapid rise” in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. In a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Lightfoot said that if the city continues on its current path of infection and deaths, that 1,000 more Chicagoans could die from the virus by the end of the year. 

Lightfoot said that essential employees who feel they could lose their jobs if they don’t go into work can call Chicago’s 311 hotline and file a complaint for paid sick leave.

Illinois has reported more than 536,000 cases, including at least 10,477 deaths, since the pandemic began. Since the end of October, the state has recorded an increase in cases, much like several other midwestern states. 

Chicago is one of the first major cities to reimpose an advisory since restrictions were first introduced in the spring when COVID-19 was spreading rapidly nationwide, overwhelming hospitals and medical workers. Other states have imposed new restrictions including New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that businesses now close at 10 P.M. every night. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that public schools could close again on Monday if the city’s positive test rate reaches 3% (it’s currently at 2.83%). He emphasized that the closure would only be temporary. 

Experts have been warning for months that a sharp increase in the fall and winter was to be expected in the U.S., coinciding with cold and flu season. Since October, the U.S. has broken several records with new daily COVID-19 cases, topping at least 100,000 per day. The state of Texas alone has reported more than 1 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, more than most countries have. 

Public health experts are recommending Americans across the country reconsider their Thanksgiving plans and avoid travel, as cases spike and data shows that small gatherings are contributing to the spread.

This week, Pfizer announced that a vaccine candidate has been proven to be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. The pharmaceutical giant said it will be submitting the vaccine for emergency use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month. While the vaccine update is some long-awaited good news, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said that people must remain vigilant in wearing masks, keeping a safe distance from others, and avoid congregating in large groups. 

Fauci even recommends wearing masks at Thanksgiving gatherings if the coronavirus status of people is unknown. On CBS Friday, he said if families have quarantined or been tested, it’s not as necessary, but if not, “even if it’s a very small group, to the extent possible, keep the mask on.”

“There is community spread right now,” Fauci said. “[People] don’t have symptoms, they don’t know they are infected. So, we need to pull more testing into the community.”