Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot moved this week to add Wisconsin to the “naughty” list in terms of spreading the novel coronavirus. There has been a spike in cases recorded in the Badger State and Lightfoot doesn’t want that spreading into Cook County or the city of Chicago itself. Concerns have been raised about Wisconsin businesses, including some restaurants and other attractions, being allowed to reopen, drawing tourists from the Windy City which is still mostly on lockdown. So anyone traveling to Wisconsin will need to go into quarantine for a couple of weeks or face some stiff fines and penalties. But as CBS Chicago points out, there are a couple of glaring flaws in this plan.
Wisconsin has been a popular getaway for people from Chicago during the coronavirus pandemic, but by Tuesday, anyone who visits will have to quarantine when they get home.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is adding the Badger State to the city’s quarantine order.
She said despite summer travel, people need to be on their guard to stop the spread of COVID-19. The mayor said while cities in the south and southwest have seen a record number of coronavirus cases, she hopes to keep the spreading at a distance for Chicagoans.
“We’re also seeing an increase in states around us. Wisconsin, for example, is going to go on our quarantine list later this week,” Lightfoot said. “And even in the suburban Cook County area, we have some concerns about what we’re seeing.”
Mayor Lightfoot has been keeping a list for a while now and she’s checking it twice. But the local CBS reporters investigating this story noticed some immediate issues that the Mayor may not be prepared to address.
First of all, the trip to Wisconsin from Cook County doesn’t require an airline flight. In some cases, if you’re in good enough shape it doesn’t even require a motorized vehicle. (Assuming you have plenty of free time, that is.) How does she plan to determine who has or hasn’t been sneaking out to have dinner with the Wisconsinites and then simply driving back to Chicago after they’re done? The honor system?
Even if we assume that she’s figured out some way to determine who belongs on the naughty list, there’s still the matter of enforcement and prosecution to consider. There are quite a few destinations on the mandatory quarantine list (18 states are included) and people have obviously been doing at least some traveling to those places. How many folks have been prosecuted thus far under these rules and how much money has the city collected in fines?
Zero. The answer would be none. Not a single person has been given so much as a ticket and not a dime in fines has been collected.
When the Mayor was asked how it was possible that nobody had been prosecuted thus far, her answer was simple. “This has really got to be about not just fining people into compliance, but understanding the risk factors out there and the risks that they’re taking for their own health and the risk factors for everyone they come into contact with.”
I’m sorry, but… what? You created a rule with the force of law and provisions for both enforcement and punishment. But you’re not actually enforcing the law, saying this needs to not be about “fining people into compliance.” So what are you doing about the people who are still traveling back and forth as they see fit? Clucking your tongue at them? Sending them a strongly worded letter? Perhaps the better question is whether or not she even knows how many people are violating the rules.
People are either going to respect your leadership and follow your directives or they aren’t. And if you are going to put rules in place, as the top executive of the municipality, enforcement is your job. That job isn’t currently being done, so don’t look around for others to cast the blame upon please.