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YORKVILLE – Kendall County now will no longer be grouped with Chicago or its collar counties when it comes to the Restore Illinois plan related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to state and local officials.
Illinois officials announced Wednesday, July 15 new regions for the re-opening plan. Four regions – Northeast, North-Central, Central and Southern – have now turned into 11 regions: North, North-Central, West-Central, Metro East, Southern, East-Central, South Suburban, WEst Suburban, North Suburban, Suburban Cook and Chicago.
Kendall County, which was previously part of the old Northeast region that included Chicago and the collar counties, is now part of the new North-Central region. Other counties in the same region include Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford.
Kendall County Chairman Scott Gryder said he thinks the new region placement for the county makes sense geographically – especially right now, with so many people not commuting to the city. He also said commuter train ridership has been down significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So we know for sure that residents, for the most part, have really dialed back going to the city,” Gryder said.
Gryder said the county has been trying to keep procedures in place for its buildings, including visitors to wear face coverings in the building, and officials are still urging people to continue following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to help control the spread of the virus within the area. However, he said, Kendall County hasn't seen the type of spike that the state has seen overall lately in the last few days, despite some initial complications with some assisted living facilities in the area and working closely with the county's health department to help manage that.
“So hopefully that continues as well,” Gryder said.
Although Oswego could be considered more suburban along with Yorkville and Plano, Gryder said, Chicago and Kendall County are vastly different areas. He said the county itself is still 75% agricultural land.
“That was a head scratcher to a lot of people,” Gryder said.
As far as Gryder knows, he said, the new North-Central region remains in Phase 4. He said he doesn't expect the region to move into Phase 5 until there's a vaccine for the virus.
Gryder said this type of approach with the new Restore Illinois regions would make sense for the state to better isolate any issues with spikes in COVID-19 cases. For example, he said, Kendall County wouldn't be as affected as it previously would have if Chicago had to move back to Phase 3.
“There’s a little more flexibility now,” Gryder said.
In the meantime, Gryder said, residents still need to bear in mind that COVID-19 is still a potentially deadly disease – especially for those who have underlying conditions or compromised immune systems.
“It’s not just about ourselves," Gryder said. "We need to think of those who are in that kind of scenario.”