Chicago COVID-19: Stay-at-home advisory takes effect for city, Cook County with new restrictions on gatherings

Chicagoans urged to cancel in-person Thanksgiving dinner as city could lose 1,000 lives in next 7 weeks

ByJessica D'Onofrio and Alexis McAdams WLS logo
Monday, November 16, 2020
Businesses brace as stay-at-home advisories take effect
A new stay-at-home advisory is serving up yet another obstacle for Manny's Deli and Coffee Shop on Chicago's West Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Stay-at-home advisories for Chicago and Cook County took effect Monday morning as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Illinois.

Local doctors are sounding the alarm as officials urge everyone to follow the new guidelines and do their part.

The city and county asking people to stay home as much as possible starting Monday.

"The numbers are significantly worse. It's stark. I am very concerned," said Dr. Jay Bhatt of the Medical Home Network.

The latest concerns prompted Mayor Lightfoot to tweet that 1 in 18 Chicagoans have active COVID-19 infections as of Nov. 13.

Restaurants will remain open for outdoor dining and for takeout and delivery. The new stay-at-home advisory is serving up yet another obstacle for Manny's Deli and Coffee Shop on Chicago's West Side.

"Our business is down," said Dan Raskin at Manny's Deli and Coffee Shop. "We are a 300-seat restaurant. At lunch we were full. Now the whole dining room is empty. We have fewer people working every day and doing everything we can to get business."

Manny's, which has been a Chicago staple since 1942, is focused on getting orders so they can stay open without laying off staff members.

Fourth generation owner Dan Raskin said they have cut back on production and are focusing on delivery and trying to attract business in the suburbs.

"My heart goes out to my staff, too," Raskin said. "Every time something happens, we must cut back, too."

Back in July, Manny's took to Twitter with a blunt message: "We are struggling. This isn't a joke. Support your fav deli for dinner tonight. Thx"

People showed by the dozens and even donated to a go fund me campaign so they could stay afloat.

"We were very lucky and we did have long lines and they lasted a few weeks until there were riots," Raskin said. "There is always something."

But with the new stay-at-home advisory and more mitigations on the horizon, things are not looking up.

The Illinois Restaurant Association estimates that 20 percent of all restaurants in the city of Chicago will close this year - about 5,000 restaurants total.

Locally owned retail shops have also been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over on North Dearborn, Mary Mary is a family-owned shop still in the holiday spirit - although sales are looking anything but jolly.

"I think small businesses like me just are not going to exist," said Mary Ann Rose, owner of Mary Mary Gifts. "We have been around for 16 years and do 90% of our business in these months."

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association said people just are not out buying clothing, shoes, and gifts. Sales are down across the board.

"Even though a business might still be open, you have no idea what those financials really look like," said Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president of IRMA.

Mary Ann Rose is trying to get creative, even offering Facetime shopping sessions to get some sales.

"Just call us and we will FaceTime with you and walk around and show you the things," she said. "It is better than seeing it on a screen."

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In Chicago and Cook County, residents are asked to stay at home as much as possible for the next 30 days, only leaving to go to work or school or for buying essential needs like food or medicine.

"Right now we need people to double down on the things like no work the masking the social distancing to staying home when you can," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner. "The not having people over to your home and at least here in Chicago, we have recommended canceling a traditional Thanksgiving."

People are also asked not to have gatherings at home with anyone outside of your household, including for Thanksgiving, and to avoid all non-essential, out-of-state travel.

RELATED: Thanksgiving turkey dinners to go from Chicago restaurants

"Everyone wants to be with their families, their friends and their loved ones, particularly in the holiday season, but this season that could come at a significant cost," said Dr. Kiran Joshi with the Cook County Department of Public Health.

In addition to Chicago's Stay-at-Home Advisory, the city is imposing new restrictions on meetings and social events, limiting them to 10 people whether indoors or outdoors. This includes weddings, birthday parties and funerals. It does not apply to fitness clubs and retail stores, personal services and movie theaters.

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On the first day of the advisory, the foot traffic at Union Station was light as it has been since many people have already been working remotely for months. Red Line commuter CeCe Moore doesn't have the option.

"We gotta go to work," Moore said. "I have to pay my rent. I've got bills. I've got a kid. You know we have to be able to survive."

"I think at the end of the day, it just makes people think about things that they may be could nix out of their lives and thankfully not being able to dine into a restaurant nixes is about 50% of mine anyways," said grocery shopper Jon Knott.

Meanwhile Josh Feeney is abiding by the advisory and trying to get his grocery shopping out of the way early before the stores get crowded.

"I think this is something that has to be done," Feeney said. "Nobody likes it but this isn't going to disappear by itself so I think something has to be done."

Health officials say the way to celebrate safely is to do it virtually instead of gathering in person.

"The next few months, winter, the flu and COVID fatigue have the potential to truly create a catastrophe that could be avoided here," said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "I am more worried about COVID right now than I have been since March."

Arwady said daily case counts, hospitalizations, the number of patients in ICU, and deaths have all tripled, and without bending the curve, Chicago is headed for catastrophe.

Lightfoot warned in the next seven weeks, the city could lose at least 1,000 more lives. Officials say that number could actually be closer to 1,800 people dead, according to some computer models.

This all comes as the holiday shopping season is about to get underway.

Eric Williams owns The Silver Room in Hyde Park. Although retailers can stay open, he's worried that shoppers will stay home.

"It is very critical for retailers right now going into the holiday season," he said. "A lot of us make up to 30% of our revenue over the next 45 days."

RELATED: Illinois on verge of another COVID-19 shutdown, Pritzker warns

Health officials warn more restrictions could be on the way depending on the conditions over the next several weeks.

"We are starting with these measures. We are going to see how it goes and if we don't see a change then we consider other options," Dr. Joshi said.