The Kankakee County Board passed a resolution Tuesday morning to recommending to Governor Pritzker Kankakee County enters Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, beginning June 8th.
The board stressed on multiple occasions it is a suggestion to the Governor and does not allow businesses to reopen.
All but two members voted down the resolution.
“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Kankakee County Board that we recommend to the Governor of Illinois the moving of Kankakee County from Phase 3 of the Governor of Illinois phased-in plan to Phase 4, on June 8, 2020.”
The resolution downplays the use of a mask, changing language from required to recommending by the Kankakee County Board. On average, Kankakee County saw nearly 30 cases a day in May of the novel coronavirus.
As of Monday, there were over 650 active cases in Kankakee County.
“We, the Kankakee County Board, feel as the federal government is enabling the 50 states to institute their own reopening plans, that the Governor of Illinois enable each of the 102 counties of Illinois to institute their own re-opening plan based on his very own plan;” The Board said in the letter presented today.
The Federal Government never closed the country and has consistently downplayed the pandemic since it was announced in February. Over 105,000 have died in the United States and nearly two million have become infected from COVID-19 since it arrived in the country earlier this year.
One of the major changes Phase 4 brings is allowing groups of 50 or more to gather. Additional changes will allow schools and summer programs to reopen. Businesses like barbershops, salons, spas and fitness centers, cinemas, gyms, manufacturing, and non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen.
“I do want to make it clear that this document does not say anywhere that we are opening anything. It references the Governors reopening,” Kankakee County Chairman Andrew Wheeler said Tuesday. “This amendment is not saying we are opening anything.
Kankakee County has already seen 11 nursing homes and long-term care facilities ravaged by the virus and left 58 dead including residents at the Manteno Veterans Home, Shapiro Developmental Center, and Riverside Miller Center.
“They have the option not to open, if they so desire. It’s completely up to the business whether they open or not. We’re not demanding that they open.” said County Board Member Brenda Zuccollo during Tuesday’s special meeting.
The resolution piggybacks on hyper-local statistics set forth by the Governor’s office to allow for Kankakee County to reopen for Phase 4. The quadrants set forth used for reopening were originally set by IDPH hospitalization zoning used to support areas in an emergency. Those regions have been in place for decades to support an event like a pandemic or disaster.
Kankakee is part of the Southwest Suburbs Region Hospitals. On Tuesday, 40% of all ICU beds and 65% of all ventilators associated within that network were available to patients. The area includes areas of Joliet, Bolingbrook and Tinley Park.
“We need to have all stakeholders on board from the hospitals, businesses to everyone. That apparently is not the case in this particular case because it needs to be more, well thought out.” Said County Board Member Robert Ellington-Snipes during today’s discussion.
“I’m going to be opposed to this measure.” Snipes expressed. “What is it that we’re actually doing here other than just saying they can do something without backing them? Are we going to be there for liability? The chairman has already said no. We need to let the course happen, as it is happening.”
Monday, there were 668 active cases of COVID-19 in Kankakee County. Since the first case was reported in March, Kankakee has seen 1,186 cases of COVID-19. Less than 1% of most town populations have been tested for COVID-19 in Kankakee County. Only Kankakee and St. Anne have seen a higher testing rate, those just above 2%.
Combined with recent rallies being held across the country, experts fear a surge in COVID-19 counts in the coming days.
Phase 4 isn’t up for consideration in Illinois until late June. Over 1% of residents in Kankakee County have been infected with COVID-19 since it arrived in March.