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YORKVILLE – Kendall County government officials pulled an agenda item from the Tuesday, May 19, remote County Board meeting concerning a resolution urging Gov. JB Pritzker to reconsider the county’s inclusion in the Northeast region of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan.
The County Board voted, 9-1, to take the matter off of the agenda. All members were in attendance for the Tuesday meeting.
Kendall County Chairman Scott Gryder said the supporting data to be included in the resolution was not available in time for the Tuesday meeting. He said the county already has had some dialogue with the governor’s office, and it felt like it might be piling on to add another resolution from the county on top of those discussions.
Gryder said the resolution may have to be revisited in the coming weeks.
“But right now, we just need to get additional data before we can do that,” Gryder said.
Pritzker had said all four of the state’s health regions – Northeast, North Central, Central and Southern – were on track to advance to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan near the end of the month anyway, provided there aren’t any huge spikes in the number of cases in the near future. Per the plan, that would mean manufacturers, offices, retail stores, barbershops and salons can reopen to the public with capacity limits and the adherence to safety precautions.
Gryder did not immediately respond to additional comment following the Tuesday remote meeting.
The update comes after County Board officials discussed the resolution draft, which would be accompanied by a letter that would better explain supporting data on why the county should be moved to a different region, during their Thursday, May 14, Committee of the Whole meeting.
County staff had said it was recommended from state officials to draft a resolution or a letter explaining the concerns of county officials about Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan and why the county may be better suited for a different region instead of the Northeast region.
“While we may not agree with every aspect [of the governor’s COVID-19 reopen plan], we certainly understand that the safety of our residents is paramount,” Gryder said Thursday. “But to put Kendall County in the same boat as downtown Chicago just doesn’t make a lot of sense for a variety of reasons.”
Kendall County Board Vice Chairwoman Amy Cesich had said that correspondence received by county officials related to the reopen plan region boundaries issue hasn’t been limited to people just wanting the county to open back up.
“We have seen many emails coming in and letters written, saying to reopen; we have also seen many letters come in that say please, please be safe, please follow the governor’s order and please don’t open too soon,” Cesich had said. “So ... there are both sides of this.”
Cesich had said the county is not in favor of completely disregarding the governor’s order, which one southern county in the state has done. She said county government recognizes what the governor is doing to help keep people safe.
Ultimately, Cesich had said, what the county wants to do is to have the governor reconsider whether the Northeast region is the most appropriate region for Kendall County to be in, and to look at, based on data, whether the county would be in a better position to reopen safely if it were part of a region that was less densely populated than the Northeast region.
However, Cesich had said, the county requesting the governor to re-examine Kendall County’s region assignment doesn’t mean the county will reopen immediately.
“So people can’t get excited, like, ‘oh, we’re going to open up earlier, we’re not going to be with this region,’ “ Cesich said. “It’s still data-driven. We still need to see the numbers, and even if we are lumped into a different region, moving to the next phase in each region still requires the data to be appropriate to move into the next phase.”
According to state health department data by ZIP code, there have been 327 people tested for COVID-19 in 60548, 535 tested in 60545, 484 tested in 60560, 828 tested in 60538 and 884 tested in 60543 as of Saturday, May 16. The percentages of the number of positive cases out of the number tested are 14.4% for 60548, 20.2% for 60545, 12.6% for 60560, 22.9% for 60538 and 19.8% for 60543, according to the state data.
According to state health officials, the Northeast region including Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, McHenry, Lake and Will counties, which accounts for more than 70% of the state’s population, had a positivity rate average of about 18.8%. The North Central region – Bureau, DeKalb, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Putnam and Jo Daviess counties – had a positivity rate average of about 7.5%.
Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel said something that might be worthy of consideration regarding the possible resolution is that 75% of property in Kendall County is assessed as agriculture. He said regions that get a lot of tourism and have a denser population also may be considered when it comes to creating the regions.
“Although we’d love to have more tourism, it just isn’t a fact right now,” Koeppel said.
Kendall County Board and committee member Matt Kellogg said a lot of the emails he’s been getting have asked why the county has been grouped with Cook County in the first place and he’s looking forward to getting more answers from the state. In the meantime, he said he’s been told the regions were created primarily by referencing the state’s emergency medical services region map, with regions 7 through 11 creating the Northeast region of the governor’s Reopen Illinois regions.
Kellogg said the northern and southern parts of the county are in two separate state EMS regions. He said he hopes that, if the Northeast Region was broken down further per the state’s EMS map, that the county would be pulled into a region similar to state EMS region 7 or 9.
“I think the data would be more accurate if you had smaller regions as it’s drawn up here,” Kellogg said.
• This story was updated with more information coming from the Tuesday, May 19 remote Kendall County Board meeting.