Coronavirus 'top of mind' during annual Lunar New Year Parade

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CHICAGO — The coronavirus outbreak was “top of mind” as thousands gathered in Chinatown Sunday for the annual Lunar New Year Parade.

On Sunday, the federal government began barring foreigners from entering the country if they’ve been to China in the last two weeks. A growing number of countries are taking similar precautions.

Some attendees of the parade Sunday also brought extra protection. The parade received great weather as Chicago had its warmest Feb. 2 ever.

“I’m wearing the mask because out of fear, really out of getting sick,” attendee Elijah Clarke said.

Clarke was one of hundreds wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness.

The number of cases in China has grown to 14,000 with all provinces affected by the outbreak. The death toll has risen to more than 300.

In Chinatown Sunday, Mayor Lightfoot marched in the parade and declared the neighborhood open for business. She said the city’s department of public health has responded proactively, coordinating with regional partners, O’Hare and major airlines.

“We are mobilizing our first responders at CPD, CFD and the OEMC and elsewhere to support any quarantine effort to protect any impacted individuals as necessary,” Lightfoot said.

The CDC said the current state of the virus in the US doesn’t justify the use of medical masks.

At the parade, the vast majority of people were not wearing them and said they are not worried about coronavirus in Chicago.

“It’s not going to stop us from checking out this awesome parade on a beautiful day,” David Nguyen said.

The mayor said the city is closely monitoring two confirmed cases locally. She also said she’s in contact with mayors in other cities touched by the outbreak.

Lightfoot said she wants clear guidance from the federal government on quarantine and testing issues. But for now, the situation in the city is under control.

“The chances of contracting coronavirus remains very low,” Lightfoot said.


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