Fury as Mayor tells Chicago to CANCEL Thanksgiving over Covid…days after celebrating Biden win maskless in crowd
THE MAYOR of Chicago has ordered residents to scrap Thanksgiving plans and stay at home amid a surge in coronavirus cases – just days after she joined crowds of people celebrating Joe Biden's election win.
It comes as the United States, already the world's hardest hit country, experiences its third and worst spike in coronavirus cases.
On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot implored the city's 2.7 million people to "cancel normal Thanksgiving plans" and slapped a 10-person limit on social gatherings.
"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,” the mayor said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Just days earlier, Lightfoot was seen among the crowds of hundreds of people celebrating Biden's election win, using a megaphone to address the congregation.
The mayor, who removed her mask during her speech on Saturday, said: "We need resources to fight this plague."
Lightfoot's new 10-person limit on social gatherings applies both indoors and outdoors.
The seven-day-average of new daily cases in the US currently stands above 125,000, more than 65,000 people are hospitalized, and more than 1,000 people are dying every day, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.
The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in Illinois as of Wednesday night was 5,258 – higher than the first wave of infections in the spring.
A month ago, Chicago reported 500 daily cases on average. The city is now averaging roughly 1,900 daily cases.
In the past two weeks, Illinois reported about 130,000 cases, the highest in the country and more than hard-hit Texas and California.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker told a coronavirus briefing: "If things don’t take a turn in the coming days, we will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order is all that will be left.
"With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there. But right now, that seems like where we are heading."
The stay-at-home advice in Chicago, effective from Monday, encourages residents to only leave their homes for work, school, medical care, groceries or pick up takeout food.
Travelers from out of the state will also need to quarantine for 14 days or submit a negative coronavirus test.
However, non-essential businesses will remain open amid concerns closures will "completely and utterly" destroy the economy, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"This is a progressive step. I hope we don’t have to go any further than this," Lightfoot said, according Fox News.
"If the possibility of 1,000 more people dying in the city in the next seven weeks doesn’t grab you by the throat as it did me when I started seeing that modeling, then there’s little we’re going to do to move you."
Lightfoot said the spread of the virus is mostly occurring in homes and private venues.
"We have to stop and reverse this trend in order to save lives," she said.
Lightfoot also threatened fines and potential shutdowns for businesses that break the rules.
"If we see you violating these rules in any way, we’re not going to hesitate to take action," she said.
Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said: "I’m very concerned we could be looking at tens of thousands of more cases, which would overwhelm the healthcare system and lead to hundreds more deaths."
On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health also released guidance urging residents to limit "non-essential" trips to public places and to work from home.
Elsewhere in the US, four states, including former global epicenter New York, have in recent days ordered restaurants and bars to close at 10pm.
A Reuters tally showed coronavirus cases more than doubling in 13 states in the past two weeks.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci said he doesn't believe the US will need to go into lockdown to fight the coronavirus if people double down on wearing masks and social distancing.
The nation's top infectious disease expert said the cavalry was coming in the form of vaccines.
Speaking to ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday, Fauci said the vaccines being developed are going to have a "major positive impact if they prove to be safe and effective".
He said they may be deployed in December and early into next year, and hopes ordinary citizens are able to get a vaccine by April, May and June.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that the country's largest school system was preparing for a possible shutdown but closure might still be averted.
"We're not there yet, and lets pray we don't get there," de Blasio told reporters.
Across the US, the number of people hospitalized with the virus surged to at least 64,939 by late Wednesday – the highest ever for a single day during the pandemic, increasing by more than 41 per cent in the past two weeks.
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