Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a city-wide stay-at-home advisory beginning Monday to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to the new guidelines urging residents to stay home, the city will also implement new limitations on gathering sizes, officials announced Thursday. The restrictions are set to take effect at 6 a.m. Monday.
Read the mayor's full statement here:
Good afternoon, everyone.
Let me start by thanking the various leaders that are joining us today. Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno, Chairman Gil Villegas, Alderman Mike Rodriguez and Katya Nuques from Enlace, and one of the members of our racial equity rapid response team.
Folks, we're here with some very sobering news.
For weeks now, we've been sounding the alarm on the record level of daily COVID-19 cases across our city. Now, Dr. Arwady will go into the specific details in a moment. But as we're all aware, the rapid rise that we've been experiencing here in Chicago is being felt across our state, across our region and across the nation.
Case in point, one month ago, our daily average of cases had ballooned to 500 cases per day. That was up from early October, late September, we were in the mid two hundreds. Based upon our latest data, we're now seeing an average of no less than 1,900 cases every day.
Meanwhile, a month ago, our positivity rate was just over 5%. Since then, it's now almost tripled, to more than 14%. In some areas of our city, it's actually at 25% or higher.
These aren't levels that we've seen since May, and in some instances, they're worse than our peak back in the spring.
In response to this clear second surge, we've already undertaken a number of measures, including instituting a curfew for non essential business operations, and continuously encouraging our residents to avoid non-essential gatherings.
However, as I said, back then, just a few short weeks ago, if we didn't see a dramatic turnaround, and soon, we would not hesitate to take further action to keep our residents safe and healthy.
And it's that pledge and commitment that brings us here today.
Due to the alarming and ongoing surge and COVID-19 cases, the city of Chicago's launching our Protect Chicago strategy. Now, this is a multifaceted and comprehensive effort that includes new regulatory actions, neighborhood-street level activations and city wide public awareness.
But here's the bottom line. And I want people to be very clear about this. If we continue on the path we're on, and you and me, and others don't step up and do more. Our estimates are that we could see 1,000 more Chicagoans die from this virus by the end of the year.
And let me say that again, if we do not step up, and do the things that we know, actually work, to protect ourselves, to protect our families, protect people in our network, protect our colleagues. By the end of this year, we will lose at least 1,000 more lives in the city. That's just in seven weeks alone.
None of us can keep maintaining the status quo in the face of this fairy stark reality. Everyone, me you, everyone must step up. And we must do more.
Our goal now is the same as it was during the early days of this pandemic. And that is to bend the curve. We are back there.
The more we bend the curve, the more we can reopen our businesses and get our lives back to some sense of normalcy. We can limit the spread of this horrible virus, mitigate the sickness and yes, even mitigate the possibility that any more of our neighbors will die. But unfortunately, as I stand here today, we are a long way from where we need to be.
Folks, we have to commit, recommit to the fundamentals that got us past the first surge: wearing a mask when you leave your home, socially distancing, washing your hands frequently, keeping yourself out of crowds. But now with Protect Chicago, we will be adding new steps to that list so that you will have the tools that you need to protect yourself, your family and your entire community.
These new steps include personal behavioral changes that we all must commit to, as well as regulatory measures.
That will roll into a new stay at home advisory for Chicago that will go into effect at 6 a.m. this coming Monday, Nov. 16, and will be in effect for 30 days. Now, this is in line with what the governor announced yesterday as statewide guidance. Let me take you through some of the particulars of this stay at home advisory. It calls upon each of us to do the following: to stay at home, unless you must go out for essential reasons, like work, or school, medical visits, or to get food.
No visitor should be in your home, unless they're essential workers, like home health care, or education workers. And no visitors includes family members that do not now today live with you.
We're asking you to avoid any non essential travel. And if you must travel, then you must either quarantine for 14 days, or depending upon the state confirm a negative COVID test before coming back.
And while this is tough, of course, this whole year has been tough. We must tell you, you must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans, particularly if they include guests that do not live in your immediate household.
I want to say these four things again: stay home unless you have to go out for essential reasons. Do not have guests over. Avoid unnecessary travel and cancel your traditional Thanksgiving plans.
Here's why the stay at home advisory is needed now. The increases we're seeing are happening literally across every zip code, every demographic, every age group. However, a major portion of that spread is happening in our homes and private venues, with the friends and family who we love and trust. In these spaces, people feel safe, we you feel safe and you let your guard down. And you're not as diligent.
We have to stop and reverse this trend in order to save lives.
Every family needs to come up with their own COVID protection plan and stick to it in the coming weeks and months. And my team is putting together tool kits to help you do just that.
I can't emphasize this enough, we have to be serious about this. COVID gets into your home through someone else who lives there who has been exposed. Making a plan also helps you figure out what to do if you or someone in your household falls ill from the disease. Protecting Chicago means starting with protecting yourself and your family.
Now, in addition to everything I just mentioned, through the stay at home advisory, we're putting in place several new regulatory measures, which we intend to vigorously enforce.
Ideally, there would be no social events or meetings. But those that still take place now must be limited to no more than 10 individuals. This applies to both indoor and outdoor settings. And it includes event venues, hotel event spaces and alternative event venues such as hotel rooms and rental properties, like Airbnbs.
Let me just pause on this for a moment.
Our total hotel industry has been hit particularly hard this year. I understand it. In many instances you're on life support. And we know that to be true as well. And you've done a lot and sacrificed a lot. And you're trying to bring visitors back to your hotels. But that cannot include parties. It's simply can't. And I'm going to urge the hotel industry also to be much more diligent about who's coming in. Because we've seen an uptick in challenges and problems at downtown hotels, and that can't be a thing either.
This advisory also goes to houses of worship, that must limit the number of guests at special events like weddings and funerals. Again, very challenging, but absolutely essential.
Let me tell you what that doesn't cover. It doesn't supersede industries specifications that have already specified capacity guidelines that are in place, such as for fitness clubs, retail stores, movie theaters and houses of worship for their regular services, not special events. We will be closely working with our faith leaders and community groups to ensure that funeral homes and houses of worship maintains strict compliance with a limit of 10 per space for any special events outside of those regular services.
I also want to take a moment to reaffirm our expectation for employers to protect their workers by allowing them to stay home when they are symptomatic. And not retaliated against workers who are doing the right thing, who are following the guidance, who are staying at home and are worried that doing so will endanger their employment. Do not take retaliatory actions against workers who are doing the right thing, we can have no tolerance for that in the city of Chicago.
Too many of our low wage employees are going in because they're afraid that their jobs won't be protected. I want all of our essential workers to know that you will be supported by your city. And if you feel that your job is being jeopardized. If you feel like your employer is not respecting your health decisions, please call us just dial 311. And we will jump all over it.
And employers, as I said, we will not hesitate to act if we have credible evidence that you're retaliating against your workers simply because they are staying at home because they are sick. And meanwhile, other restrictions remain in places before. Private residences cannot have more than six people inside or not household members, I cannot emphasize that enough.
Bars and restaurants, unfortunately, will remain closed for indoor dining. And our curfew for non essential businesses remains in place from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. And while these restrictions remain the same, we will be ramping up our enforcement. I want to add this point loud and clear. Please follow the rules, we want you to be able to stay open. But if you do not follow the rules, then we will take swift and immediate action.
And retailers: let me remind you, COVID 19 still exists.
I spent a lot of time traveling around the city looking from neighborhood to neighborhood. And what I've seen in some retailers is parking lots that are absolutely jammed with cars, and yet no lines at the entrance. That tells me something. Something's not right about that. And what I've told my team is that in those circumstances, we are going to be extraordinarily diligent, and make sure that everyone is playing by the rules. That's the only fair thing.
People are dying. We're seeing a daily uptick in the amount of deaths that we're recording in the city of Chicago. This is literally a matter of life and death. And if we see you violating these rules in any way, we're not going to hesitate to take action -- not through warnings. Time for that is over. We're going to find and, if necessary, shut businesses down.
This is a time when we all must take this seriously, we all have to step up and do our part.
Now, we don't want to have to go down that route. And we shouldn't have to go down that route. Because we know that people are already suffering. But despite the surge we're currently experiencing, I have been very proud over the course of these last months with your individual and collective efforts on behalf of your city.
Countless Chicagoans have done an outstanding job and taking personal responsibility and following the public health guidance. And we owe each and every one of you a debt of gratitude and thanks. Thanks for your sacrifices.
And I want to also again, thank the thousands, maybe tens of thousands of healthcare workers, essential workers, first responders, people that are out there, collecting the garbage in coming in every single day to help make sure that our city stays on track, that we are able to deliver services. We owe you a debt of gratitude as well, along with the many, many businesses who have been with us every step of the way, as partners in staying on top of this incredible crisis that is stretching all of us to the limit.
I know that many people are tired and exhausted. The fatigue is real. I know that some people are also angry and frustrated, because all of our lives have been upended by this terrible virus.
And even as we put these restrictions in place, I know that our success is fundamentally rested on our ability to work together to find solutions to educate people into compliance.
That's a key part of our new program of Protect Chicago. It's working neighborhood to neighborhood to develop and execute an on the ground strategy. This is a new pillar in our efforts to make sure that we are doing outreach and connecting up with people.
Under the leadership of Dr. Arwady, the Chicago Department of Public Health will be deploying approximately 2000 city workers, including up to 550 contact tracers, and a network of hundreds of community based organizations to reach out at least a half of the city's households. Contract tracers will support phone banking, door knocking, and peer to peer text campaign 1,100 safe passage workers will be passing out helpful information and materials and high traffic public areas. And they will be distributing door hangers translated into multiple languages. And traffic aids from the Office of Emergency Management will also be a part of this effort.
We will also be providing community based organizations with specialized training and support to strengthen their ongoing efforts and to deploy trusted neighbors who will knock on the doors and distribute information.
Why is this necessary? Because we know that in some areas of our city, people are particularly scared. They're skeptical of the government and maybe even scared. They're scared and skeptical of the healthcare industry. But what we also know is that we must reach those people in particular, because they need our help. They need our support. They are our neighbors, and we cannot leave them in this crucial time.
There are some zip codes and census tracts where we're seeing extraordinarily high numbers of infection rates, extraordinarily high numbers, a percent positivity. And we've got to do more to reach our neighbors. And I want to credit, the number of community based organizations that have been with us on this journey for quite some time. And you'll hear from one in a moment.
I also want to thank Alderman Rodriguez, for coming up with some very specific, tangible things that we can do as a city to reach out to our neighbors to help support and protect them in this incredibly challenging time. This hyperlocal focus, grassroots door to door is going to be indispensable as part of our ongoing efforts to protect each other during this difficult time.
If we can make breakthroughs in the communities that need us most, that is going to go a long way and helping us overall bend the curve.
We have to build trust. And that's why we are leaning into trusted community partners. This is not going to be a top down effort. This has got to be a grassroots effort, fanning out neighbor to neighbor.
And I want to thank our partners in advance for the work on this campaign -- partners like Katya Nuques, and everyone at Enlace, who have been engaged in this fight for so long. The feedback that we've gotten from a number of other other groups like Illinois Unidos, and others, we've heard you. We value your feedback. We value your partnership, and we are putting the suggestions that you've given us into action.
Finally, all Chicago is gonna expect to see this new campaign and messaging across all of our billboards, social media channels and more to raise awareness across our communities.
I would encourage every Chicagoland to sign up to be part of this campaign, Protect Chicago, through online and become part of the online team. Go to chicago.gov/protect that's chicago.gov/protect if you want to be part of this campaign to protect our neighbors.
There are many ways in which you can volunteer and all of that information is available at chicago.gov/protect. That is how we protect Chicago and that is how we will save lives -- yours, your family member, your neighbor, a life of someone that you love and the life of our city.
We've been through a heck of a lot this year, and it's not over. These next seven weeks are going to be crucial, crucial in how we start 2021? Are we or will we be in a better place? Can we welcome the new year as something that we look forward to and not dread?
The power is in our hands. And the answer is to how we step up in these next seven weeks. This is a time to test all of us. Certainly me as a leader of the city, members of the city council, we've got a lot of things on our plate, a lot of things that we must do to break through. And COVID-19 is at the top of that list, and we have to step up, we have to step up and lead. And we need you, every one of you, to be part of this journey with us.
All of our lives are interconnected in ways that we never even realized before this pandemic. And because of that interconnectivity, we all must step up and do our part. Thank you, and I'll welcome Dr. Arwady to the podium.