Due to a growing report of area Churches holding weekly services, Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong pleaded with both pastors and parishioners tonight to avoid such group gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis.
“I am asking you all not to go into a Church.” said the Mayor. “I’m not saying ‘turn away from the Church,’ I just don’t want you in the buildings. If some of the Pastors won’t honor that, they will have to deal with the next step of this which is a cease and desist order and a possible misdemeanor.”
Mayor Wells-Armstrong said Police have been directed to enforce the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order. Neighboring Will County announced this afternoon 110 COVID-19 cases ranging in ages from 5 to 80 with four deaths.
“I fully support our Churches, and I understand they play an important role in our community. Not only do they take care of us spiritually, for those of us who are believers, but we have Churches in our community that does food drives, serve breakfast, that collect clothing. But I need people to stay alive.” Mayor Wells-Armstrong said tonight during a City address. “I don’t’ want to lose people in my City to COVID-19.”
Tonight’s plea comes as Kankakee County’s COVID-19 count climbs to 25, announced earlier this afternoon by the Kankakee County Health Department. “We have not seen the worst of this. Every resource I’m looking (local, national, conferences) they anticipate these numbers are going to surge,” said Mayor Wells-Armstrong Friday.
“I’m asking Pastors to please forgive me,” said Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong during an address Friday night. “I believe we’re going to be sheltering in place longer than April 7th. That has not been announced, but I have a gut feeling. It will have an ending date. No basketball games. No tennis matches. None of that should be going on. The case numbers are going up every day.”
Riverside along with Kankakee County’s Emergency Operations Command has worked with Olivet Nazarene University to expand lodging for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. Olivet recently moved 100 students still on campus to local apartment complexes.
Currently, the County has a reported 900 beds in anticipation to care for hospitalization efforts
“We have medical professionals and first responders that don’t feel comfortable going into their homes now, because they don’t want to expose their own families, so they need lodging as well.” The Mayor said tonight.
Minutes prior to the Mayor’s address it was announced 12 nurses at UIC Hospital in Chicago had tested positive for COVID-19.
Kankakee’s Mayor will next address the community via the City of Kankakee’s social networks Sunday evening.