Does taking a walk in the park in Chicago become criminal in the age of Covid-19?
It hasn't -- yet.
But the simple act of getting some fresh air in one of Chicago's parks and along the lakefront may soon become one, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
It's understandable for people who have houses to perhaps stay home. They can wander into their backyards at least. But people crammed into highrises in the densely populated city center, what can they do? Instead of gathering in a park, they can walk on the sidewalks downtown, the crowded, bustling and dirty sidewalks. How can Lightfoot be sure that forcing people desperate for sunshine to take their short strolls on a city sidewalk won't lead to more virus transmission, considering the virus that causes Covid-19 can cling to things like soles of shoes and hangs in the air for a time after a sneeze or cough? Funneling people into a smaller space with heavy human traffic does not seem like the best choice for health protection.
Two people broke the spirit of the law yesterday. I was one of them. More on me later.
One friend I know decided to leave her south suburban home and drive to a friend's house in a semi-rural area. She was not going to help him with anything, bringing food or our new medium of exchange -- toilet paper-- no, she was going to his few acres to sit in a greenhouse to get some sun and some heat and destress.
"It was about 90 degrees inside," she said.
Now for me. I left the house twice yesterday. Not for groceries. Not for an emergency. Not to help anybody in need. I left to get some sunshine. I don't like walking around my neighborhood because now too many people are navigating down the narrow sidewalks and possibly sneezing and coughing and trampling disease with them, so I entered my car, which I alone use and took a walk in a solitary place. On my way there I passed the parks, which were lined with cars in the lots. I came right home. I live alone. I liked it so much that I did it again in the afternoon, but instead of a walk, I jogged. I didn't see another soul.
Am I a criminal? Or nearly a criminal?
Will Covid-19 make criminals of us all?
Is my friend a near or total criminal?
Is it criminal to funnel people onto a narrow corridor of a sidewalk instead of the green area of a park to stretch their legs, hoping they will get enough UV light to kill the virus and other germs?
Criminal or not, science-based or not, individually responsible or not, the restrictions on the population due to Covid-19 look like it will increase, at least here in Chicago.
Science-based channels focusing on Covid-19: