Chicago to close lakefront to public
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that the city would indefinitely close its lakefront to the public.
The closure, effective immediately, includes the 606 Trail, Riverwalk, Millennium Park and all other parks near the lake.
A day after warning the move may come, Lightfoot said it was a drastic step necessary to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 and to protect the city’s hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients. If nothing is done, she said the worst-case scenario is there will be upwards of 40,000 hospitalizations in the coming weeks.
“That number will break our health system,” Lightfoot said. “That is why, if you don’t act responsibly and stay at home like you have been ordered to do, we are headed for a situation like we are seeing play out catastrophically every day in New York.”
Contact sports at parks, such as soccer and basketball, are also banned under the order.
Lightfoot said police officers are ramping up patrols near the lakefront and have the authority to issue citations or arrest those who do not comply.
Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck said 56 warnings were issued Wednesday. One individual was arrested for failure to obey a police officer’s order.
Officials also highlighted continued efforts to expand bed space for COVID-19 patients. Lightfoot said they remain close to signing a deal to reopen MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, which would house up to 200 individuals.
Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she met with members of the Army Corps of Engineers at McCormick Place Thursday morning to discuss how to set up thousands of beds at the convention center to house patients in the case of overflow from area hospitals.
“It is part of our pandemic planning, but it is not something that I have ever wanted to consider seriously doing in Chicago,” she said. “But we’re talking about it, not in theoretical ways.”
Arwady and Lightfoot also said the United Center will transform into a logistics hub for Chicago’s coronavirus response, which will include coordinating food distribution, first responder staging and collecting medical supplies.
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