LIGHT­FOOT VOWS TO STAY AHEAD OF ‘UPTICK’ IN YOUNGER CASES

Mayor says she won’t ‘take any­thing off the ta­ble’

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIELMAN, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@sun­times.com | @fspiel­man

Mayor Lori Light­foot said Mon­day she’s con­cerned about an “uptick” in coro­n­avirus cases among young peo­ple and 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 where 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 third­party 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.”

ASHLEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

Mayor Lori Light­foot says the city is fo­cus­ing heav­ily on the places that young peo­ple like to con­gre­gate.

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