Chicago may have produced an instant classic in the “COV-IDIOT” genre of films over the weekend.
A video surfaced of what appeared to be a big party at a home on Saturday night, in flagrant violation of the stay-at-home order that’s been in effect in Illinois for more than a month. The video quickly went viral on social media in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
And although Chicago police said Sunday they “cannot authenticate the nature or location of the gathering,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot strongly condemned the party, which came as Illinois’ COVID-19 death toll rose to almost 2,000.
“What was depicted on the video was reckless and utterly unacceptable,” Lightfood said in a tweet Sunday.
The mayor shut down Chicago’s lakefront last month after crowds congregated there, and she has become well-known for her stay-at-home mantra, with social media memes depicting her as an unsmiling stickler for the rules.
Actual enforcement of the stay-at-home order has been light-handed, as elected officials repeatedly have said they expect the public to essentially police itself, for safety’s sake.
After the emergence of the video, though, Lightfoot threatened punishment.
“While most Chicagoans are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, reckless actions like these threaten our public health and risk erasing the progress we have made,” she said. “We will hold those responsible accountable.”
Lightfoot suggested residents anonymously inform on house parties at cpdtip.com, promising the police “will shut them down immediately.”
“The fewer people who comply with the ‘Stay At Home’ Order, the sicker our residents will get and the harder it will be for us to recover,” the mayor said on Twitter.
In a statement, Chicago police said officers would disperse crowds that violate social-distancing rules, issue citations or make arrests “as a last resort.”
At his daily news conference Sunday, Gov. JB Pritzker sounded exasperated when asked about the video. The governor said he had heard about it but not seen it himself.
“I want to remind everyone that by doing that – by standing together, not social distancing, many people not wearing masks – you’re literally putting everyone around you in danger,” he said. “They are putting you in danger.”
Dan Mihalopoulos is a reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.