Oak Park renews health emergency declaration

The declaration will be in effect until Sept. 14

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Due to an increased number of positive COVID-19 cases locally and in the state of Illinois, the Oak Park village board voted 6-1 during its July 27 meeting to reinstate a declaration of emergency affecting public health. The declaration extends until Sept. 14. It does not require businesses to shut down or people to shelter in place.

"Following a sustained period of declining new positive cases in Oak Park of COVID-19, the village has seen the seven-day and 14-day rolling average of new positive cases trend in an increasing direction during the month of July 2020," the resolution reads. 

"There's no shelter-in-place order associated with it," Oak Park Health Director Mike Charley told Wednesday Journal. "We've started to see an increase in the number of cases again and it's just a way to ensure there's recognition and the village has the authority to make decisions quickly."

The board of trustees previously declared an emergency affecting public health due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13. Under an emergency declaration, the village manager, with the board's approval, has the ability to "authorize any purchase or contracts necessary to place the village in a position to combat effectively any disaster, and to protect the public health and safety, protect property, and to provide emergency assistance to victims in the case of any manmade or natural disaster."

According to Charley, a reinstatement of the declaration comes as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's "resurgence" plan to mitigate outbreaks of COVID-19 so the state does not have to revert back to Phase Three of Restore Illinois. Oak Park falls under the Suburban Cook region of the "resurgence" plan. Charley said Oak Park will not deviate from the state.

"If we start to see the cases skyrocket, or hospital use skyrocket, or use of ventilators skyrocket, then they're going to put measures in place to reduce people's risk," Charley told Wednesday Journal.

Since the resolution to make the declaration has no language in it that requires business shutdowns or shelter-in-place directives, the public health emergency has no material effect on the day-to-day lives of people in Oak Park. It is neither the intention of village government nor Charley to regress to a state of lockdown.

"I prefer we don't. I hope that everyone continues to mask and social-distance," Charley said in his Wednesday Journal interview. "Nobody should be worrying; people should just be taking precautions."

Combatting COVID-19, Charley said, is "really a team effort" by citizens, local government and businesses, which need to monitor capacity limits and ensure their staff and customers wear facial coverings. 

Under a public health emergency declaration, the village has the authority to enter into contracts without public advertisement and make emergency purchases, with which Trustee Simone Boutet took issue during the July 27 meeting. 

Boutet believes that, due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff should anticipate spending and contractual needs and then present them to the village board for approval. 

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek explained that doing so would create several hours' worth of work for village staff, delaying the process. Boutet remained unconvinced and cast the sole vote against reinstating the declaration.

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Reader Comments

24 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Comment Policy

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: July 31st, 2020 8:36 AM

Just returned from a (mostly) lovely walk through our village, dodging idiots not wearing masks, not social distancing, acting like nothing has happened and generally behaving like Republicans. Gov. Pritzker knows where this is leading, but the unmasked mobs don't. "Illinois Sees Highest Number Of New Coronavirus Cases In 2 Months As State Hits 'Danger Point,' Pritzker Says Another 1,772 new cases of coronavirus were reported and 18 more people died. / PUBLISHED ON JUL 30, 2020 1:41PM CDT"" * https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/07/30/illinois-sees-highest-number-of-new-coronavirus-cases-in-2-months-as-state-hits-danger-point-pritzker-says/

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 9:50 PM

Ditto, Doc.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 9:44 PM

Yes, William. In these unprecedented times we each make a choice how to lead our lives ? and even our deaths. Whatever that choice is, following prudent measures as well as a little luck will hopefully get us through. I wish you the best. Stay well.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 3:25 PM

There ya go, Doc. Spoken like an educate adult. For someone so indigent at the perceived disrespect shown for others, you have a nasty habit of using graphic images involving the human digestive system. Also, thanks for the links, but I've already read a dozen or more in-depth articles in my attempt to understand this thing and avoid having it kill me. Unlike you, apparently, I plan on staying away from public pools even if they open them up. .

Bruce Kline  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 3:12 PM

If your read the references I supplied you would see that the idea that viruses are just a bag of DNA or RNA and therefore "lifeless" might be - when considered in the overall scheme of evolutionary biology - just too simplistic. Meaning, Brian may not have been right ... but he was not wrong. IMO - viruses occupy a "twilight zone" they are as some have said at the "edge of life". My objection to your comment to Brian was your totally dismissive and cavalier certainty in regard to a incredibly complex topic - a topic that raises the incredibly complex issue of what life really is. READ THE REFERENCES (they are not long).

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 2:50 PM

I'm sorry, doc. You went to med school, and I didn't, so I'll explain myself. According to veteran epidemiologists who've studied SARs for years, there is no respiration, no digestive system, no nervous system and no circulatory system. So, Wirth respect to your medical degree, if there's another determinative factor for what you'd define as "living," by all means, weigh in with specifics, please. In the meantime, I'll rely on established experts working in the field.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 2:30 PM

Actually Brian contrary to William Dwyer Jr's simplistic utterings, you're not totally wrong at all. No surprise there. Viruses are sort of in a gray area ? at the outskirts of what one might consider a life form. Some liken viruses to seeds in the plant world. So yes Mr. Dwyer is correct when he says that the SARS-CoV-2 virus "does not feast on anything" but he is wrong to say it isn't even alive. That is debatable, depending upon one's definition of life. And as we have learned, when it comes to viruses, things are not as simple as they once appeared. William Dwyer Jr. has proven time and time again that his ignorance in matters general and of biology and medicine in particular, is only exceeded by his sanctimonious and pompous arrogance. Read the following short references to see a more nuanced and thought provoking view of viruses. And you will see that you may not have been right, but you were not wrong. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-viruses-alive-2004/ https://www.nature.com/articles/454677a https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2008/08/news-virus-infecting-definition-life/

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 11:57 AM

Well said Brian.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 11:50 AM

@ Dwyer: Being wrong even again isn't such a bad issue. And if I am wrong so be it and glad to admit it. Being wrong and never admitting being wrong is by far worse.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: July 29th, 2020 5:48 PM

See, Brian, again... wrong. The Coronavirus isn't even ALIVE. It doesn't "feast" on anything, That would be bacteria, your humble (and uninformed) opinion not withstanding. All SARS viruses, once inside a human body', co-opt that body's cells own protein to make millions of copies of the virus.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 29th, 2020 12:47 PM

IMO Neal Buer has made a very fine distinction. Why wear a mask if you are by yourself cleaning the gutters on your home? Or working in the garden by yourself? If you self quarantine, are windows open or closed and who and how does your home get cleaned after 14 days? If you self quarantine solo do you wear a mask? In my humble opinion, Covid is alive and well in every P trap and every sewer line in this country, a dark warm wet feasting on dirt just waiting to get out.

Dean Rogers  

Posted: July 29th, 2020 12:43 PM

Thank you,Kitty,for a voice of sanity as well as relevancy. Zoning changes? Slipping right under the radar.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: July 29th, 2020 11:48 AM

Four people post here criticizing your post, and that's a "firestorm"? You really ARE a snowflake, aren't you Neal?

Matt Cotten  

Posted: July 29th, 2020 11:43 AM

Regarding mask wearing, people would be smart to take precautions if you may have been exposed to the virus but not yet tested positive. So in that case it would make sense for those people to wear masks outside or when using a shared vehicle.

Sheree Johnson  

Posted: July 29th, 2020 9:33 AM

I often neglect to take may mask off when I get back in my car. I'm far from stupid. Be kind and try to think from another's perspective before judging.

Kitty Conklin  

Posted: July 29th, 2020 5:13 AM

I find it very odd that the author of this article completely omitted the board discussion, begun with a comment by Village Manager Pavlicek, that the real purpose of this emergency order is to enable village staff to make spur of the moment zoning changes. Specifically, zoning changes that would be needed to enable special use permits to be granted to new day care providers. So Trustee Boutet was correct to vote against this resolution because spending power has nothing to do with zoning. My questions now become two-fold - is this order needed to enable the Park District to vastly expand it's publicly funded day care operation (as it's doing) and is this another revenue grab by the Village? Where is the data that quantifies the size of the special use permit need?

Ray Simpson  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 10:28 PM

This move by the village board is just doing something so they don't have to do anything - -meaningful!

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 10:21 PM

Sorry to start a firestorm. My point remains the same. You don't NEED to wear a mask when you are outside and no one is around, anymore than you need an umbrella when it isn't raining.

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 9:35 PM

Neal, I imagine many food delivery services require drivers to be masked at all times. That is whom I always assume is masked while driving alone. And as weary as I'm been lately, that very well may be my dinner she's not sneezing on.

Nancy Luepke  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 9:05 PM

Neal, It seems you're projecting your feelings around wearing a mask in certain situations. However, safety guidelines in place are for your safety AND others. I'm sorry it embarrasses you to see others being extra cautious. Remember; their intention is to keep YOU and others safe. A simple "thank you" will suffice going forward.

Mary Darnall from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 8:35 PM

It is not problematic for or to anyone to wear a mask MORE than required. NOT wearing one can spread COVID 19. Let's leave our own ("stupid") biases to ourselves.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 8:06 PM

Look, people should wear masks when social distancing is not possible or inside a store. Wearing a mask while driving or walking where no one is in sight, and maybe fogging up your glasses is just plain stupid.

Irene Marie  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 7:36 PM

Why make such an ignorant comment Neal about people wearing masks in their car? It's totally unnecessary and only makes you look stupid. Be better.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2020 7:13 PM

Practice social distancing, when possible. If not, wear a mask. Wash your hands frequently. There is no need to lock done an economy, or wear your mask while driving alone in your car. It makes you look stupid, because you apparently are.

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