Lightfoot reflects on pandemic, shares what's next for Chicago

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is mourning the lives lost to the pandemic, and the problems that have only gotten worse during the past year.

However, she is also looking forward to what comes next.

The good news includes planning for a limited re-opening of Chicago’s second largest employer -- the tourism and hospitality industry, where hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost.

"I feel that we have a good path that we are on. We're opening things up. The museums are back open. Our arts and culture is gonna open," she said. "And we've got plans, as we open up, to make marquee events from now through the end of the year so that Chicago is a destination place for an open economy."

FOX 32 asked the mayor if she can share some of what she is thinking.

"I’ll give you the tease, but I think we're gonna see some big events this summer," Lightfoot said.

She has been talking to, among others, the organizers of Lollapalooza. Such giant festivals might return with some fans and/or performers live in person, but with others participating via the internet.


Lots of bad news lingers, though, especially what the mayor calls, "irreparable damage" to Chicago’s economy.

"Well, look, there've been a lot of moments I’ve had despair. There's no question about it. This has been a very, very difficult year," she said.

A big increase in shootings and killings defied her campaign promise to reduce bloodshed. Police facing the violence also faced the virus.

"We lost a number officers in 2020 because of COVID-19. That, not surprisingly, made officers very reluctant to engage with members of the public," Lightfoot said. "But a big part of it also is the courts. The criminal courts now have been closed for 12 months."

"We’ve arrested literally thousands of people who've been involved in car theft, carjackings and so forth. But what happens? Within 24 to 48 hours, they're back out on the street. And the backlog of criminal cases isn't moving. Because Cook County hasn't figured out they can actually do trials virtually, like Lake County," she added.

Cook County’s criminal courts are finally taking steps to resume a small handful of jury trials next week. But it could take years to clear the backlog, with some defendants on pre-trial release having been re-arrested five times or more.