Officials from several Chicago suburbs have declared local states of emergency as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the area, following the lead of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who made a statewide emergency proclamation on March 9, and President Donald Trump, who made the national declaration Friday.
West suburban Oak Park was one of the first take the step, with the village board saying on Friday that they were declaring a local public health emergency.
The resolution suspends certain rules so that authorities can take action to protect residents without convening a meeting, according to its website. Oak Park has also closed its schools, library and park district.
The next day, Mayor Nancy R. Rotering of north suburban Highland Park declared a state of emergency, according to the city’s website.
On Sunday, the mayors of south suburban Harvey and north suburban Evanston both declared states of emergency.
“My office has the duty and obligation to endure the health and well-being of our residents, especially vulnerable senior and disabled populations,” Harvey Mayor Christopher J. Clark said in a statement. “We will take all steps necessary to fulfill that duty.”
City meetings and events in Harvey are canceled as part of the declaration, and the mayor signed an executive order to close bars, taverns and other entertainment venues until further notice. Essential staff will work at City Hall, and residents are encouraged to pay utility bills online.
After two Evanston residents were confirmed to have COVID-19, Mayor Stave Haggerty declared a local state of emergency in the north suburb.
The move will “enhance our City’s ability to respond to this infectious disease,” Haggerty said, noting that the city activated its Emergency Operations Center and put together an Evanston Coronavirus Task Force.
The operations center will “allow for greater coordination and management of our COVID-19 response,” Haggerty said. The task force — which is made up of education, government, business, faith, nonprofit, health and senior community members — will be responsible for relaying information between the members’ respective communities and the Emergency Operations Center.
Earlier in the week, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks declared a state of emergency after the first positive case of COVID-19 turned up in the far northwest suburban county.
“Declaring a state of emergency is not a decision to be made lightly,” Franks said. “However, with a McHenry County resident now presumptively diagnosed with coronavirus, I have the responsibility to ensure that we can bring all available local, state and federal resources to bear to blunt the impact and bring this to as quick of a conclusion as possible.”