March, 11, 2020 – The Village of Oak Park Board of Trustees has scheduled an emergency meeting for 10 a.m., Fri., March 13 to consider a resolution declaring a local public health emergency, a procedural step under state law that would empower municipal administrators to respond more quickly to the rapidly changing challenges of the novel coronavirus illness, COVID-19.
The meeting will be streamed live and archived online for on-demand viewing, as well as cablecast on VOP-TV, which is available to Comcast subscribers on channel 6 and ATT Uverse subscribers on channel 99.
Although no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Oak Park, officials say declaring a local public health emergency now will establish the legal authority for rapid mobilization of resources as needed and create the mechanisms necessary for any future reimbursements by the state and federal governments.
“This declaration does not mean residents of Oak Park are at an immediate increased risk for contracting COVID-19,” said Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb. “The Village Manager and Public Health Director are just asking the Village Board to give them the authority to move more quickly should circumstances change.”
If approved by the Village Board, the declaration would coincide with similar actions taken earlier this week by the Governor and the Cook County Board to allow for more effective response to the evolving COVID-19 public health crisis.
The local emergency declaration by Oak Park would temporarily suspend purchasing rules such as bidding requirements and board contract approvals when quick action is deemed necessary to protect public health and it is impractical to convene a board meeting.
Administrative rules also could be authorized by the Village Manager without board approval to ensure public employees retain their wages and benefits for up to 14 days should they or a family member be asked to self-quarantine in the event of an exposures to COVID-19. Fourteen days is the quarantine time established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the meantime, public health officials are continuing to stress the importance of avoiding possible contact with the virus, including washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home from work if you are sick. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily also is recommended, including phones and keyboards. More information is posted online.
“The best strategy for individuals at this point continues to be using every day preventive actions like those recommended by the CDC,” said Oak Public Health Director Mike Charley.
“Since no anti-viral prevention treatment currently is available for the virus, taking common sense precautions like frequent handwashing remains the best approach to adopt.”
Charley urged residents to sign up for enews, the Village’s email information system, and follow the Village’s social media pages, www.facebook.com/vop news and twitter.com/vopnews, which will feature any new developments.
Residents also can sign up for the Village’s emergency notification system that could be used should circumstances warrant. To sign up, just go to www.oak-park.us/notifyme, click on the green Sign Up for Alerts button and follow the instructions. Anyone who would like to sign up, but lacks access to a computer can call 708.358.5489 to be added to the voice message alert list.
Links to information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health are posted on the Village website at www.oak-park.us/covid19.
For questions beyond the information posted via links on the Village website, call the COVID-19 Hotline 1.800.889.3931 or email email@example.com.