• Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot raised questions about the national strategic stockpile of personal protection equipment and ventilators in a Tuesday interview with Insider. 
  • “I have serious questions as to whether or not there is a robust stockpile at the federal level,” she said, noting that many states’ requests of the Trump administration “have not never even come close to being fulfilled.”
  • The mayor said her administration had prepared for the possibility of a pandemic by participating in a “mock exercise” last August in which city officials made plans to address a fictional virus that originated in China and was set to ravage Chicago. 
  • Lightfoot said she’s “fearful” Trump’s response to the crisis will “come back to haunt us.” 
  • But the mayor’s response to the crisis has also incorporated humor. On Monday, she released a humorous video in which she acts out a series of characters urging Chicagoans to “stay home and save lives.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pleaded for stronger presidential leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic in a Tuesday interview with Insider.

She also raised questions about the national stockpile of personal protective equipment and ventilators.

“I have serious questions as to whether or not there is a robust stockpile at the federal level,” she told Insider in a Tuesday interview. “I have not heard anybody ask the question, and I think it’s time that we call that into question: Do you have the materials or do you not? Over the last three and a half years, have you kept these materials in climate-controlled environments so they’d be ready if there was a need?” 

Lightfoot said she’d discussed this question with mayors across the country whose requests for essential medical supplies from the federal government she said have gone unfulfilled.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said he’d been informed on Tuesday that the national stockpile is now “empty” and that his state is “on our own” after procuring just 50 additional ventilators. 

But Trump insisted during a Tuesday evening press briefing that the federal government still has “almost 10,000 ventilators” that it is waiting to distribute until a major “surge” hits vulnerable regions. 

“We are holding back quite a bit,” he said. 

States across the country have encountered a strapped and chaotic marketplace for personal protective equipment and other crucial medical supplies, as Trump initially encouraged them to procure their own materials. 

On Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that after the president promised him he would ship 300,000 N95 masks to Illinois, the federal government sent his state thousands of surgical masks instead. Pritzker attacked Trump last week over his crisis response, accusing him of wasting “precious months” and “throwing tantrums from the back seat.” 

Illinois began implementing a statewide stay at home order on March 21 and the governor extended the length of the order by three weeks on Tuesday, moving the end date from April 7 to April 30. 

As of Tuesday, Chicago has had 2,611 cases of COVID-19, while Illinois has had a total of 5,594. Lightfoot said Chicago likely won’t see the peak of its infections until late April. 

Lightfoot said Trump’s slow response to the pandemic and his repeated public downplaying of the threat was “a lost opportunity that I hope doesn’t come back to haunt us, but I’m fearful that it will.”

And she demanded that the president respond to the concerns of states and cities. 

“Red states and blue states, elected officials, mayors, governors, other local elected officials are crying for help because we all need it,” she said. “All of us have to prepare as if we are the next hot spot. And we shouldn’t be in this fight alone. We should have the full embrace of the federal government.” 

The mayor, a former federal prosecutor who took office in May 2019, noted that her own administration had prepared for the possibility of a pandemic by participating in a “mock exercise” last August in which city officials made plans to address a fictional virus that originated in China and was set to ravage Chicago. 

“Who would’ve known that exercise would have been so prescient? But it was,” she said. “So when we started seeing reports coming out of China in December and then in January, and seeing the spread, our folks were ready, and that has served us incredibly well.”

Memes inspire a funny ‘stay home’ campaign

Lightfoot’s aggressive implementation of her state’s stay at home order has spawned a host of memes showing her blocking the city’s public parks and admonishing people gathered in public places. 

Taking a cue from those memes, Lightfoot on Monday released a funny video in which she acts out various characters encouraging Chicagoans to “stay home and save lives” during the pandemic.

In one scene she plays “the astrologer,” who apologizes to “all the Aries” for being forced to stay in on their birthdays, but adds “maybe you can celebrate with the Geminis later.”

Playing a “true friend,” Lightfoot quips, “What’s more important: saving lives or getting a pedicure? It’s cold out, nobody’s going to see your toes.”

The video attracted a burst of media attention and quickly went viral. 

Lightfoot told Insider she “had a lot of fun with it.”

“I’m not a social media person myself, but 1 million views in 24 hours I’m told is pretty damn good,” she said. “I think people are getting the message and clearly hungry for a distraction from the serious circumstances that we’re all finding ourselves in.” 

—Mayor Lightfoot #StayHomeSaveLives (@chicagosmayor) March 30, 2020

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