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Douglas County Health Department Reaches Out to Communities, Businesses

By Doris Elmore
Staff Writer

The Douglas County Health Department has been working diligently to keep residents apprised of the number of COVID-19 cases that have been cropping up in the county. They are concerned about the well-being of Douglas County residents.

According to the DCHD FB page on Saturday, Oct. 31, there were 21 new cases making a total of 861 total known confirmed cases; 10 deaths and 362 newly confirmed/active cases/14 days. As of Oct. 31, the DCHD is monitoring 774 active and close contact cases.

Region 6 resurgence mitigations began Monday, Nov. 2, due to three consecutive days greater than 8% test positivity rate/7 days.

The following COVID enforcement protocol letter was recently sent to business community members from the DCHD:

First of all, we want to thank all of you for the efforts you have and are doing to help with the continued fight to curb the spread of COVID-19 within our borders. That being said, the statistics are showing that the battle is far from over.

DCHD was notified on Oct. 21, 2020 by Illinois Department of Public Health that Douglas County—with a positivity test rate of 13.4%–has been moved to the orange warning level. Should we continue on this path with positivity and several other benchmarks, the next step would be for more stringent mitigation measures being imposed by the state.

We also continue to receive, on a daily basis, numerous complaints from individuals regarding safety protocol and quarantining non-compliance by county businesses. Our policy to date has been to send a letter politely informing the business of the complaints and the recommended actions per state statutes. In several cases, we sent a second letter as continued complaints came in. We were hopeful that adopting a positive-bases, educational approach would help rectify the situations as no one wants to see your businesses struggle.

Several things have happened recently that mean, unfortunately, more punitive measures will need to be taken. There have been complaints regarding Douglas County businesses made directly to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the governor’s office, and those entities are advocating for more vigilant efforts on our part to ensure adherence to the state guidelines enacted earlier this year.

We were contacted last week by Illinois State Police, noting it now has an online Executive Order Violation Complaint function for public health agencies to utilize as a sort of final step with non-compliant businesses. Should this step be taken, the complaint form includes an accounting of what steps the local health agency and local law enforcement have taken to date.

Because of the worsening spread of COVID locally, the continuing volume of complaint calls received and the growing input from state officials, DCHD will be adopting the following protocols regarding businesses not following state safety protocols:

1st Step: Aforementioned letter from DCHD noting public complaint(s) and requesting compliance with state requirements.

2nd Step: Facility Notice of Non-Compliance letter sent noting additional complaints were received and any more will warrant additional action, including notifying ISP violation complaint line. When that notice goes out, we will let county and city law enforcement know as well.

3rd. Step: Notify ISP violation complaint line if continued complaints are received.

They end their letter with this statement: It is truly with a heavy heart that we are taking these steps, but circumstances have left us no choice. We wanted you to know the reason for these actions and ask that, if you are not already doing so, please consider putting into place the state mandated safety protocols. We fervently hope that, by everyone working together for the good of the whole, we can avoid more punitive measures and come out of this a healthier and happier community.

The DCHD is trying their best to keep residents healthy, please do your part in complying to their requests. If you are just an individual, and not a business, it is your responsibility to follow CDC guidelines to keep yourself safe, as well as others.

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