Social distancing can still be social

March 28  Evanston residents enjoyed open spaces while maintaining social distance on March 25, when unseasonably warm and sunny weather drew many people outdoors to go for walks, ride bikes or just enjoy some fresh air in their front yards.

The following day, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot shut down that city’s lakefront trails, beaches, adjoining parks, the Bloomingdale Trail and the Chicago Riverwalk.

Contact sports including basketball and soccer are also prohibited under Governor J. B Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, but walks, runs and bike rides can continue. Mayor Lightfoot made it clear that Chicagoans are subject to citation if they violate the Governor’s order. The City initiated a “Stay Home, Save Lives” campaign on March 26 to inform residents about how they can stay healthy and do their part to bend the curve of the novel coronavirus.

The State of Illinois received an “A” on the Social Distancing Scoreboard, Unacast’s interactive scoreboard which uses data to measure the efficacy of social distancing initiatives at the local level. Evanston’s Mayor Steve Hagerty declared a local state of emergency for COVID-19 on March 15, and on March 26, Council extended the state of emergency. By City ordinance, a state of emergency lasts only until the next City Council meeting, at which it may be extended.

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.