Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** Lightfoot and city’s top public health doc clearly not on the same page as mayor responded to mitigation order
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*** UPDATED x1 *** Lightfoot and city’s top public health doc clearly not on the same page as mayor responded to mitigation order

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

* This is how yesterday started

Chicago health officials released staggering numbers Tuesday that show just how quickly the coronavirus is spreading in the city, with one estimate indicating that more than 57,000 residents could currently be infected with the virus.

During a weekly press conference discussing the city’s latest travel restrictions, Dr. Allison Arwady, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that approximately 8,213 Chicago residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and are currently considered to be “active” cases.

Those numbers are already high, but city health experts fear the virus could be even more widespread than that. According to Arwady, officials believe there could be between five and seven times as many active cases as are currently being reported, due to residents who haven’t been tested or who aren’t showing symptoms.


Gov. JB Pritzker said the mitigations were triggered in Chicago by seven straight days of hospital admission increases and eight consecutive days of rising test positivity. In Chicago, the number of non-ICU patients is up 72% since late September and the number of those in ICU is up 56% since October 1.

Chicago’s top public health official seemed to anticipate the move before the governor’s announcement.

“If the governor makes this decision, we will obviously support it,” Dr. Allison Arwady said earlier on Tuesday. “The numbers that we have seen here give me no reason to think that this is not imminent.”

But the mayor and her top doc were clearly not on the same page. Click here for more on that.

* Heather Cherone at WTTW has some interesting insights

In July, the Illinois Department of Health published its Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan, which laid out the metrics that would trigger restrictions on nonessential businesses and gatherings.

Pritzker’s actions on Tuesday followed that plan, and it was unclear why Lightfoot and her administration did not understand the metrics it details. […]

Hours after Lightfoot told reporters on Oct. 19 that she didn’t “think there is a cause and effect” between the surge in confirmed cases of the coronavirus and bars and restaurants, Pritzker told the news media he was confident there was a causal relationship between the fast spread of the virus and indoor dining and drinking.

Two days later, Lightfoot acknowledged that the risk of getting COVID-19 is “greatest” at bars and restaurants, “because people gather, they take their masks off, they have a drink, they socialize, they talk.”

* Mitchell Armentrout and Fran Spielman at the Sun-Times

That group could eventually include more than 7,500 restaurants statewide, according to Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia, who said he raised his estimate to almost a third of the industry that could be sunk in part due to the governor’s “extreme” measures.

“Why the full shutdown? At least let us try 25% capacity,” Toia said. “We know how to do this right — masking, social distancing and sanitizing. Any business doing it right should be kept open, and any one that isn’t should be shut down. We don’t understand why the restaurants are the only ones affected.”

The rules issued by Pritzker, who has cited studies suggesting bars and restaurants are “super spreading” sites, also mean other city gatherings will be limited to 25 people or 25% of room capacity.

The Democratic governor noted Chicago is averaging twice as many COVID-19 hospital admissions per day compared to a month ago, while its average seven-day testing positivity rate has almost doubled since the beginning of October.

* Jamie Munks, Gregory Pratt and Dan Petrella at the Tribune

Late last month, Lightfoot cited a decrease in COVID-19 cases as she allowed bars that don’t serve food to reopen for indoor drinking. She also eased rules on restaurants, gyms and other retailers, allowing them to increase capacity. The changes were Lightfoot’s attempt to ease the financial burden on Chicago businesses by lifting frequently criticized restrictions.

But they also came as the number of new COVID-19 cases per day was hovering around 300, well above the 200-case threshold the mayor set months ago as a goal before moderating restrictions.

Chicago now is averaging nearly 800 new cases a day, Arwady said. To put it into perspective, she said 400 was a level of concern and 200 was the level the city wanted to stay under.

So, Toia does have a decent point. Chicago restaurants were limited to 25 percent capacity until the end of September, when the mayor upped the cap and then the spread greatly intensified. But whether reverting back to that 25 percent limit would actually drive numbers back down is another story. I hope to ask that question of the governor today.

*** UPDATE *** Inevitable…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Sonny - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 12:32 pm:

    Sincerely sorry but the Lightfoot and Sam Toia approach failed. Leaving open the opportunity for skirting the rules and giving the dumbest and most reckless people a place to congregate was foolish. Get carry out from your favorite place. The numbers tell a clear story - this is an utter disaster.

  2. - Pundent - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 12:45 pm:

    I get the sense that Lightfoot isn’t as fully engaged on these issues as Pritzker and his team. She seems to lack awareness on metrics that have been in place for some time and then backtracks once she realizes the history and facts. And often times she then veers in the opposite direction and some of her actions, like closing the lakefront and instituting quarantine orders when traveling from other states, seem ineffective and punitive.

    For Lightfoot I see her, at times, viewing this as an opportunity to increase her political profile. Pritzker seems to keep the virus first and foremost in his decision making.

  3. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 12:45 pm:

    While I suspect the spike is far more attributable to other things, the timing of upping the limit was terrible. Forgive a fanciful suggestion, but there -are- masks that allow for sipping, and I wonder if requiring those *and* going back to 25% is an option - at least it’s not a full closure. And signal boost the message that limiting social gatherings in homes is helping to let businesses stay open.

  4. - Big Jer - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 12:51 pm:

    ===when the mayor upped the cap and then the spread greatly intensified===

    So instead of apologizing and admitting that she made a mistake in easing the restrictions Lightfoot is pushing back on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order to suspend indoor dining and drinking in Chicago.

    And Lightfoot seems to change what she says a lot and not always based on evidence. Alluding to the QOD and Pritzker’s response, Lightfoot could use some lessons in leadership.

    I’ll stop and wait for an apology from Lightfoot that she was wrong and put the health of many Chicagoans in danger. Still waiting………

  5. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    I’m starting to get the feeling she may be in over her head. The timing and response to certain issues/crises have not been good:

    (i) August CTU threatens strike if schools open. Next week Lori says we aren’t opening schools. CTU is not part of camp Lori

    (ii) Police Reform. Had 29 alders for GAPA (she supported in campaign) but then pulled it from moving forward. She says she will provide a new plan next month I believe. Starting over takes time and there’s alot going on. Gov will have something passed before her. Not a good look.

    (iii) Campaign promise: get Chicago away from fines and fees. proposed budget lowers speed ticket cameras to 6 mph over from 10

    (iv) raising property taxes during a recession with Pappas report this week showing property taxes have increased 400%+ in some areas of the city since 2000 even though wages have increased 57%

    (v) Block Club has reported a strained relationship between most of city council and the mayors office. Now she needs these members to pass a budget. She doesn’t have the votes.

    (vi) middle of a pandemic pushing back against the Gov who outlined metrics months ago. Also, not on the same page as the health director whose experience includes CDC Epidemic intelligence and disease outbreaks.

  6. - Southern Skeptic - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    Lori Lightfoot is not on the same page as…Lori Lightfoot.

  7. - Shytown - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    Is Lightfoot on the same page with anyone? What happened to the Stay Home, Wear a Mask warrior she once was? her comments were off brand and damaging. It’s sad how quickly she is tanking on the job (on multiple fronts).

  8. - WH Mess - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:11 pm:

    Umm … call me cynical but this is a case where it is in BOTH the Mayor’s and the Governor’s political interests to be at odds here. The Mayor can stick up for restaurants when she’s working a budget through City Council, and the Gov can show he won’t favor Chicago vs downstate. I predict more of this.

  9. - Leigh John-Ella - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:33 pm:

    We’ve had worse relationships between governors and mayors.

  10. - Jimbo2 - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    This story, as a high risk Chicagoan, really bothered me. I understand where the Fear & Confusion is coming from in some other areas of the state. There are political games being played in those cases. There’s no such reason here. For the Mayor to make misleading or confusing statements like saying that the bulk of infections come from Home infections is less than helpful. She knows government does not have very good tools to control those types of events.

    I was even more upset when I attempted to contact the mayors office and called their phone number and got a message saying that mailbox has not been set up. Then found instructions to call 311 where I was told they could not connect me to the mayor’s office but would pass on my complaint. Myself and my whole family voted for & supported Lori, I’m rethinking that decision!

  11. - Shytown - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:50 pm:

    Also, Lightfoot made this a two day story for herself. Instead of trying to paint Pritzker as the bad guy yesterday, she should have come out and said how disappointing it is that we have to take these steps and hurt so many wonderful businesses and their workers because people still can’t play by the rules to keep one another safe. Finis. Over.

  12. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    Lori Lightfoot is just taking a page out of the handbook of pretty much all of the mayors in the State of Illinois.

    “It’s the Governor’s fault. Pritzker is doing this to you.”

  13. - northsider (the original) - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 3:05 pm:

    When the mayor allowed the beachside restaurants and bars to open & overflow but kept the beaches closed I realized there was a disconnect.

  14. - Leigh John-Ella - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    Or she could have come out and said: we beat this before, back in the spring. Wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance. We’ll get those infection rates down.

    People are tired and frustrated. Give them some optimism and hope. Remind them they’ve been successful before. Be a team leader and inspire no matter the consequences.

    The alternative is to be a nothing works, they was dyin anyway, sourpuss Republican.

  15. - illinifan - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 3:25 pm:

    I am feeling for the restaurants and their employees. Many will not survive this new closure. Even an icon like Rick Bayless says this may be the end. If the feds had passed legislation that would provide all an income they would make it. Without national action that benefits the worker so many lives and livelihoods are being destroyed by this virus. The sad part is it could have been contained. Take a look at Taiwan that has a slightly larger population than NY but has had only 431 cases and 7 deaths. This happened because they took aggressive action quickly and had the public health infrastructure in place to identify and trace.

  16. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 3:31 pm:

    At all times since the end of May, including with the October 1st changes, Chicago has implemented tougher restriction on hospitality than the Governor’s Phase 4 called for.

    Earlier closing hours, lower indoor occupancy for taverns and restaurants and brewery taprooms, and repeatedly limiting Chicago taverns in other ways that the rest of state did not.

    And none of it appears to have worked any better at averting this fall spike than the protocols the rest of the State more or (ahem) less followed.

    But you wouldn’t know any of that from the last 24 hours of City Hall media circus.

  17. - Southwest Sider - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 4:04 pm:

    Deep sympathy (again) for restaurant owners.

  18. - Pundent - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 5:18 pm:

    =If the feds had passed legislation that would provide all an income they would make it.=

    Well we did get a new Supreme Court Justice. All it would have take were a few courageous Republican Senators to put the health and welfare of our small businesses at the forefront.

    And I like the Taiwan reference. I’ve used it many times myself. It shows us that there is a way out of this if we get our act together. It’s also not an outlier. Many other countries have been able to resume some semblance of normal.

  19. - JoanP - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 6:11 pm:

    I am so sad for all the restaurant owners and employees who once again must close, and at a worse time of year. So many places that I have enjoyed over the years are gone or on the brink.

    But I wouldn’t for the world want anyone to get sick, to die, just so I could go out to dinner.

  20. - Molly Maguire - Wednesday, Oct 28, 20 @ 6:17 pm:

    A lot to question on Lightfoot for sure. In most places, the problem is not finding an open place to eat, but the lack of demand by people around here to eat or drink indoors. Were these restaurants booming with indoor eaters?

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