CHICAGO - Hours before Illinois’ “stay-at-home” order was set to take effect, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other civic leaders gathered to reassure city and state residents that a food shortage was not on the horizon.
“There’s absolutely no need for people to rush to grocery stores or hoard any food or supplies,” Lightfoot said at a Saturday morning press conference at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications in the West Loop.
“We are in constant communication with major retailers to maintain a strong food supply. And they have and they will. Everything will remain stocked and available.”
Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, added: “The supply chain is secure, it is safe, and it is working. From the farm to the factory to the store, everyone is working overtime to ensure that [stores continue] meeting [customer] needs during this crisis.”
Chicago Public Schools will continue to offer free meals to families with school-age children as classes remain canceled through April 20. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is operating normally and is offering assistance to those who wish to apply for SNAP benefits. The Salvation Army will be providing mobile feeding services and can prepare up to 75,000 meals in 48 hours, Lightfoot said.
“Man, oh man, are they stepping up to help, [but] they need your help” Lightfoot said. “The time is now to step up and help them because they are helping us.”
Meanwhile, a relief fund established by the Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago has already raised $13.5 million, money that will be doled out to local nonprofits to help in their individual COVID-19 relief efforts.
On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that a statewide “stay-at-home” order would go into effect at 5 p.m. March 21 and remain in place until April 7.
Under the order, Illinois residents will still be allowed to travel to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other “essential” places. Leaving the house is still allowed, though any unnecessary travel is strongly discouraged.
Nearly 600 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Illinois so far, but Pritzker’s administration is bracing for as many as 3,400 by next week. So far, five deaths in Illinois have been attributed to the virus.