Stay-at-home orders make Chicago streets look like ghost town

Picture of empty Chicago streets

By Khalem Caldwell

The Windy City. City by the Lake. Chi-Raq. The 312.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot even referred to Chicago as, “the economic engine of Illinois and the whole Midwest.”

Now, Chicago has been labeled a “near ghost town”.

On March 23rd, according to the Chicago Tribune, Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke by phone with President Donald Trump that Monday afternoon to discuss Illinois’ need for more medical equipment, and medical staff, to fight COVID-19.

“The president was very responsive, frankly,” Gov. Pritzker said.

This is coming off a conference, held on March 21st  by Gov. Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot, Sen. Dick Durbin, and other state officials, announced that the State of Illinois will begin a “stay-at-home” order, lasting until April 7th. 

The “stay-at-home”, or “shelter-in-place” order as some officials refer to it, was provided to limit movement around the city, and state, encouraging social distancing in the process. 

This also means all businesses deemed “non-essential”, by the state, are being forced to close. For the majority of local businesses this means them. According to the state’s website,, “Illinois has seen an unprecedented number of unemployment claims during this challenging time — over half a million claims in a five-week period from March 1 to April 4. The administration has moved swiftly to meet this increased demand and expand access to benefits during this time.”

The order also closes some of Chicagoans favorite spots in the city including the beaches, large parks, movie theaters, etc. Not to mention gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and warrant warnings and citations. 

However, these restrictions do not mean you can’t leave your home. Residents are allowed to go outside for walks, jogs around local parks, and to retrieve essential items from stores. Residents are only allowed to do this if they practice social distancing. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines “social distancing” as “remaining at least six feet from others.” Federal health officials have said the highest risk of coronavirus community transmission comes from being closer than six feet to an infected person for a period of 10 minutes.

As COVID-19 cases continued to rise, on March 31st, Illinois extended its “stay-at-home” order until April 30th.

According to the State of Illinois, as of April 13th, 2:30pm, there have been 105,768 coronavirus tests performed throughout the state. Of that number, 22,025 positive tests have been confirmed. The death toll for COVID-19 in the state is now 794.

As the state still worries about new positive cases coming forward, they look to extend the “stay-at-home” order for the second time. This order will extend into May, with no specific date set in place.

According to NBC Chicago, when asked about the possibility of an extension at the governor’s coronavirus press briefing held daily, Gov. Pritzker said he wants to lift the “stay-at-home” order “as soon as possible,” but must be aware of the way the coronavirus case curve is moving.

Chicagoans, along with Illionoisans, are just waiting for their lives to return to normal.

Downtown Chicago has been left almost completely empty. Photo taken by Khalem Caldwell.
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