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On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D-Chicago) announced new restrictions to fight the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic in the Windy City. By restrictions, I mean outright canceling Thanksgiving, “traditional Thanksgiving,” at least. No, that’s not my opinion — it’s exactly what she said.
“A Stay-at-Home Advisory for Chicago will go into effect on Monday, November 16th at 6:00am,” Lightfoot tweeted from on high.
This advisory calls on all Chicagoans to do the following:
– Stay home unless for essential reasons
– Stop having guests over—including family members you do not live with
– Avoid non-essential travel
– Cancel traditional Thanksgiving plans
Sure, Thanksgiving may be a national holiday dating back to 1863, with roots tracing all the way back to the Pilgrims and the first settlers of Jamestown, Virginia. Sure, it may be one of the few times a year when American extended families come together to share a meal and celebrate what they’re thankful for. But the coronavirus is a GLOBAL PANDEMIC and Chicagoans just can’t afford to gather in private, let alone in public.
Wait, didn’t Lori Lightfoot join a crowd to celebrate the (still disputed) results of the presidential election just five days ago? Well, that’s fine because she was celebrating democracy, not gathering in an intimate setting with her family to celebrate an American tradition dating back before the Constitution.
Positive COVID-19 tests rose to the highest level yet in Illinois in the past few days, with 12,384 recorded positives on Wednesday, raising the state to 538,000 recorded positive tests, according to The New York Times. The state experienced 147 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, raising the total to 10,854.
The coronavirus pandemic is a serious crisis, but lockdowns arguably cost more in terms of years of life lost than the years of life they save. Furthermore, it is one thing to issue guidelines for how families should celebrate Thanksgiving. Some social distancing — tables outdoors, with extended family members six feet apart — may make sense. It is entirely something else to tell residents of Chicago to stop having guests over outside the members of their own households, especially for Thanksgiving.
Sure, Lightfoot’s order is merely an “advisory,” for now. What if she decides to go further? Will she send police officers door to door, to make sure no illegal family gatherings are taking place? Will she send officers to patrol the streets to make sure no one steps foot outside of his or her home on the holiday?
In September, Attorney General William Barr condemned the lockdowns in the strongest of terms. He said, “You know, putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
When the mayor of Chicago tells citizens to “cancel traditional Thanksgiving,” I’m inclined to agree with Barr. If the mayor tries to enforce this order, that would be a horrendous intrusion on civil liberties.