CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a “beloved” city employee has died of COVID-19.
During her regular coronavirus news conference, the mayor would not reveal the name of the person “out of respect for the family” and until all family members have been notified.
Lightfoot said that the person was a “long standing” employee beloved by family and coworkers. She did acknowledge while she did not know the man personally, the city is notifying the co-workers of the deceased in their department.
“This sobering moment should remind us that the numbers that we report every day are not merely statistics. They are people whose lives have been forever changed and a network of people, connected by crisis, who need us to do everything we can every day to save lives,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor repeated her call to follow the stay at home order put in place by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.
“This is a deadly disease. It does not discriminate,” Lightfoot said, adding that despite the warmer weather that’s approaching, the order to stay inside stands. “Each of our individual actions has a direct impact on everyone else. It is truly a matter of life and death.”
However, she stressed that short respites outdoors are allowed, within reason.
“It’s fine to get some fresh air. The issue isn’t exercise, it is congregating. Which is why we took steps to shut down lakefront is because people weren’t getting the message about congregating,” Lightfoot said. “For now and through April 30, do what you’ve been doing, and stay home to save lives.”
Also announced, the Chicago Housing Authority will defer payments for tenants while the stay at home order is in place through the end of April. The move will affect thousands across the city.
For Chicago Public Schools students, food services won’t end during the spring break period.
“The provision of food will continue,” she said.
Lightfoot also announced the formation of the Arts For Illinois relief fund, to help artists throughout the city struggling at this time. She said anyone wishing to donate or find out more information can go to the site Arts For Illinois. The effort is being lead by Pritzker’s wife, First Lady MK Pritzker and Lightfoot’s wife, Amy Eschelman.
The mayor also took the opportunity to remind people it’s Census Day and information provided to the government will help the city receive federal funds for everything from education programs to infrastructure.
“You’ve read and heard about stimulus packages. Revenue from government depends on population, and that depends on the census. Step up and make sure everyone is counted,” she said.
When asked whether there would be a parade or celebration some time in the future to honor essential workers in the COVID-19 battle, Lightfoot said they should be acknowledged, but it’s too early to plan a public mass gathering.
“We have to follow public health guidance we will follow after the peak. We won’t know for some time. There will be cause for celebration and we have begun to think of what that looks like,” Lightfoot said. “It will be a great day for us. What I have seen these past few weeks, the selflessness and sacrifice, we want to celebrate and reward that spirit.”