BOURBONNAIS – It has been nearly three weeks since Region 7 first tested at the 8.0% warning territory back on August 19th.
Exactly 19 days to be exact.
In over two weeks’ time, the Will and Kankakee area residents have done little to curb the efforts of the virus as rates continue to rise across the area. Regionally, the area reached a high of 8.8% on August 28th and held firm through the end of the month before dipping just -0.1% difference to start the month of September.
On Saturday, Region 7 remained at that 8.7% positivity rating.
Are we on pace for additional restrictions in Region 7?
In less than 72 hours, that question will most likely be answered as the Illinois Department of Public Health re-evaluates the Region. A re-evaluation that could lead to additional mitigation efforts, including possible remote learning for all students.
It’s a question that demands a quick and firm answer before things spiral out of control. A line we may have already crossed with Labor Day celebrations and a two week fostering period for the virus.
Wednesday, September 9th will mark two weeks since new mitigation went into place for the Region, including the closure of indoor dining at bars and restaurants. A mitigation tactic not all in the Region have cooperated with county health officials showing little to back up the Governor’s mandate in an effort to curb the pandemic locally.
Some restaurant owners have refused to close their doors, daring local Health Departments to take action. It’s a dare departments seem unwilling to take up. On August 18th, Country Herald filed a FOIA request with the Kankakee County Health Department requesting any complaints received to the Department by citizens or workers against a business for COVID-19 related offenses, including social distancing or face masks issues.
As of September 6th, we’ve yet to receive a response from the Agency.
Some of the strongest official responses locally come from those unwilling to take the blame, singing a familiar swan song of ‘unfairness’ while blaming neighboring counties.
They include State Representative Lindsey Parkhurst, who last week re-submitted a request to have Kankakee made into its own Region. Parkhurst was part of the same group of lawmakers to push to have Kankakee removed from the previous Chicago/Cook County region. It’s a trend of compliance, not mitigation to the virus. One that further leads to blame, setting a dangerous precedent of thinking that could lead to every zip code placed into its own “Region.”
Last week alone, 175 new confirmed cases were reported in the imaginary ‘Kankakee County Region.’ By comparison, at the time Kankakee was separated from the Chicago region, it was averaging 45 new cases a week. Now we’ve crossed the halfway point to Will County numbers for the same period, who averaged just under 300 cases per week when Region’s became split.
Parkhurst’s argument, written September 1st, was Kankakee is testing under the 8.0% warning threshold, but connected to Will County. It’s a localized point of thought that argues to focus on the economic efforts of today, not the health prevision efforts of tomorrow.
As of Saturday, Kankakee County was testing at 8.0%. Parkhurst’s argument deemed null and void in just under a week. That’s the bitch that is COVID-19. A monster that doesn’t care about the economy, man-made boundaries, or political alliances.
“Kankakee County has worked hard to follow CDC guidelines,” Parkhurst said in a letter to the Governor dated September 1st.
A stretch of the truth if there ever was one by a politician. The county has repeatedly come out an anti-science stance on multiple occasions, conforming to numbers only when it can be beneficial at a hyper-local level, at that very moment. Paying little to no interest in growth trends or tomorrow’s potential devastation.
Kankakee’s “Healthy Business Alliance” is a prime example of the County’s mitigation efforts. An organization born out of disease used as a propaganda card by local officials to create the illusion of business growth while connecting an economic strategy to any possible pandemic mitigation effort. The organization is run through the Kankakee County Health Department. Meanwhile, County officials have coordinated bi-monthly propagated briefings, allowing local hospital administrators to comment on their own ongoings with little to no oversight. Not to mention a Sheriff who refuses to enforce mask regulations.
In the meantime without drastic changes to Regional positivity rates, new mitigations are expected to announce later this week.