Local communities take action during crisis

Rex Robinson – rex@thetimesweekly.com | 3/18/2020, 7:56 p.m.
Mayors and local officials are taking steps to keep residents informed and up to date on the latest information in ...

Mayors and local officials are taking steps to keep residents informed and up to date on the latest information in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, in an effort to minimize its impact.

Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk on Monday declared a local state of emergency that will make available city funds to coordinate expanded services for seniors and other immune compromised residents, enable the city to waive late fees on past city accounts as well as implement a moratorium on water disconnections.

O’Dekirk’s action comes on the heels of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement ordering all bars and restaurants to be closed for dine-in to minimize the spread of the virus.

Pritzker has mandated that restaurants and bars across the state are to be closed until March 30. The city, according to O’Dekirk, will be working to ensure this mandatory closure is followed. He stressed, however, that the ban “does not apply to delivery of food, or drive-up/drive-through orders.”

“This clears up some of the bureaucracy and allows the city to take immediate action without some of the restraints that are normally there,” O’Dekirk said, adding that he made the declaration after meeting with the city manager and other staff.

Meanwhile, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann on Monday met with Ruth Colby, president and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital and an infectious disease doctor from the hospital the heads of the Park District, Library District, police and fire departments and area public and private school districts.

Colby and the doctor from Silver Cross, according to Baldermann, assured him the hospital stands ready to handle whatever the virus may bring.

"They said they are fully prepared for this or any other crisis that comes their way," the mayor said. "I am fully confident in their ability to handle this situation now and in the future."

Baldermann added he had also been in contact with the small business community in impacted by forced closures. "We are looking at offering small bridge loans to assist them in getting through this," he said.

Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar discussed in video how the village is handling the Coronovirus. He said the village has strong partnerships with the State and Will County public health department and also is following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control. He has no plans to declare an emergency.

Clear said he has been in touch with business owners and officials from Amita Bolingbrook Hospital and Edward Hospital in regards to the virus and added that Illinois American Water has suspended all water disconnections.

More information about how Bolingbrook is addressing the Coronavirus is available on their website at www.bolingbrook.com.

"These are very much unchartered waters - something that none of us have been through before," Claar said. "This is clearly a time we should pull together. No community is immune from this.

Clear encouraged residents to refrain from hoarding at grocery stores and to check on friends, family members and senior citizens. "Stay calm. Stay at home and stay safe," the mayor said. "We will get through this."