Nothing has changed.
There is no vaccine. There has not been a strong downward swing in cases. Only two counties in Illinois, Scott, and Edgar remain without COVID-19 cases while 98% of Illinois battles the pandemic.
In Kankakee, fueled by economic pain, anxiety, and a growing sense of community depression, elected officials moved forward on Tuesday trending a historical disregard by County officials for the State’s leading health experts in their plans to reopen.
A political reach so vast, it extends to the County Sheriff, who has refused to enforce a basic mask policy to help in mitigation efforts.
On Tuesday, Kankakee County Board members presented a drafted resolution for Gov. Pritzker Tuesday in an executive committee to move Kankakee County into Phase 4. The move stands despite a rise in active cases in the County which now stands at 681. Most of those fall outside of long-term care facilities.
The resolution will be put to vote on June 2nd before a full County Board.
That’s less than a week before the proposed Phase would kick in. As of Wednesday, only Kankakee and St. Anne had more than 2%* of their total population tested for the pandemic.
Phase 3, which begins this weekend, will bring just under a million people back into Illinois workplaces, accounting for countless other variables that could extend into millions of opportunities for viral spread.
The premature advancement in Phases would unleash countless health variables and an unprecedented risk to the Kankakee County community for a potential spread of the virus, allowing places like cinemas and fitness centers to reopen across the County.
In May, Kankakee County averaged 28 new cases a day. Phase 2 began in early May, Kankakee’s cases have climbed from 397 on May 1st to 1,124 on Wednesday.
Phase 4 is essentially the “end of the road” in Illinois until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found. The Phase allows for gatherings of groups of 50 or more. All non-essential business can return to work with IDPH guidelines, including bars and restaurants for indoor service, movie theaters, gyms, schools, summer programs, and child care services can reopen with IDPH guidelines in place.
Most of those businesses will be allowed to reopen at some capacity already, beginning in Phase 3.
Phase 4 for various regions under the Restore Illinois plan will begin eligibility starting at the end of June; however, there is no promise set forth any regions will move into the Phase at that time.
Kankakee County could find itself damaging its reputation, public health, and consumer confidence at a local level in a race no reputable leadership would run to be the first to reopen.
Capacity limits must be followed, according to public health officials who guided the plan.
As trying regular statements from public health officials both state and county may be, isn’t it better to aid them in efforts and walk hand and hand with people who are experts, rather than invite a plague into the community with open arms?
The resolution will be voted on Tuesday, June 2nd at 9 a.m.
*Based on population numbers from 2018, should be assumed larger due to historical community growth rates.