Chicago Mayor Lightfoot defends joining crowd celebrating Biden-Harris win as virus cases surge

Lisa Donovan, Chicago Tribune
·2 min read

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday defended her appearance last weekend when she joined a crowd celebrating the presumptive win of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

During a morning interview on MSNBC, the mayor was asked about joining revelers Saturday amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Chicago and nationwide — a surge so bad that on Thursday she announced a stay-at-home “advisory” while Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned a second statewide mandatory shutdown order could be coming.

The mayor nodded to the fact that crowds were taking to the streets across the country last weekend after news outlets declared Biden the winner in Pennsylvania, giving him the 270 electoral votes he needed to beat Republican President Donald Trump. She delivered a celebratory message to a tightly packed crowd via bullhorn that was shared on social media.

“I will tell you in that big crowd a week ago, everybody was wearing masks,” the mayor told MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle.

“Yes, there are times when we actually do need to have … relief and come together, and I felt like that was one of those times. That crowd was gathered whether I was there or not, but this has been a super hard year on everyone. Everyone feels traumatized.”

The Democratic mayor, who has battled with Trump, cheered the Biden-Harris victory and told the crowd that while it was a time to celebrate, they should do so safely. She also said she’d hold a Biden White House to campaign promises of delivering COVID-19 help to local governments, but that Americans should search their souls and figure out a way to “unite” amid deep political division.

Critics were quick to rap the appearance, especially as elected leaders double-down on a message of social distancing and limiting time in crowds to prevent the spread of the disease.

On Thursday, the mayor was asked about the call for people to stay home, save for essential outings, while allowing nonessential businesses to remain open. The mayor said it’s a balancing act.

“Part of the calculus and balancing we have to do is not completely and utterly destroy our economy,” including putting workers on unemployment rolls.

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