Coronavirus Chicago Update: City suspends debt collection to provide financial relief during COVID-19 outbreak

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A worker at Chicago's City Hall has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The patient works in the city's Department of Procurement Services, on the eighth floor of City Hall.

The news adds urgency to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 through Chicago.

The mayor on Wednesday announced that debt collection in the city will be suspended until April 30 for a variety of fines, and utility bill payments will also be delayed. Also during this time, Chicago will suspend all booting and towing, and only issue parking tickets for public safety reasons.

"Now is the time to act. It's the right thing to do. We know that cash flow is a significant issue, and we want to make sure that we're doing out part to really hear people and recognize what their daily struggles are," Lightfoot said.

The move comes after the mayor's office received confirmation Tuesday that a city employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The Department of Public Health does not believe the person contracted the virus at work, but they are now evaluating who the individual may have come in close contact with in the office outside of City Hall.

"Whenever we have a confirmed case there is an evaluation of whether there have been people with that close contact and those would be the people we would think about quarantining potentially," said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "Others are asked to very closely self monitor their condition and to stay home if they develop any symptoms."

A Chicago City Council meeting was cancelled Wednesday due to a lack of quorum, but the mayor held a 90-minute conference call with aldermen, where she talked about a financial assistance package the city could offer in conjunction with what the federal government might provide.

"Here in Chicago it can be things like zero interest loans to small businesses, direct grants, assuring our delegate agencies that we're entering into contracts with assuring them that we are going to meet those contracts," Ald. Matt Martin, of the 47th Ward, said.

Lightfoot will address the city about the crisis Thursday at 5 p.m., laying out other measures she's taking to deal with the pandemic.
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