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McLean County OKs Emergency Ordinance, Preps For Mobile COVID-19 Testing

McLean County Government Center
Ralph Weisheit
McLean County has adopted an emergency ordinance to respond to COVID-19.

McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez told County Board members on Thursday the county could get notification of a COVID-19 mobile testing site that might begin conducting tests for at least some people as early as Saturday.

McLean County Board virtual meeting
Credit Facebook/McLean County Government
The McLean County Board met virtually for the first time on Thursday via Facebook Live and YouTube.

Rodriguez said she’s waiting official word from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state authorities on the time and location. She added it’s not clear who would be eligible for the testing at first.

She explained to board members the struggle medical providers are having identifying and isolating patients who have contracted the coronavirus.

“Health care providers in hospitals and clinics are frustrated because they wish they had more tests because they probably know that folks are coming to them with symptoms or calling on the phone as they should with symptoms,” Rodriguez said.

The board also approved an emergency declaration to mobilize the county’s Emergency Operations Center and give its emergency managers more spending authority as it responds to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 20-member board met via videoconference for the first time to maintain social distancing. The county previously canceled its March 17 meeting.

Emergency Ordinance

County Board Chairman John McIntyre signed the emergency declaration March 20. From there, the board had seven days to formally adopt it.

McIntyre said the county Emergency Management Agency has started securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and other medical personnel in the county and is helping to develop additional sites that hospitals could use if they become overrun with patients.

The plan enables the McLean County EMA spend up to $500,000 to respond to the coronavirus. Any expense more than $25,000 would require approval from Rodriguez.

McLean County State’s Attorney Don Knapp wrote to the board to explain the ordinance’s limited scope and address concerns similar ordinances have raised in Central Illinois cities and towns recently.

Knapp said the ordinance does not give the county the power to suspend or limit the sales or possession of alcohol, firearms, ammunition or explosives; to ration the use or sale of food, fuel or clothing; or to seize property with “just compensation.”

Knapp noted the ordinance does give the county authority to control public access to certain areas, such as where an Emergency Operations Center could be established to set up a public distribution of resources.

“If people have concerns, they can look at up on our website and be rest assured this is not an overreach resolution,” board member Gerald Thompson said.

The board approved the ordinance unanimously. It remains in effect until April 22, though the county could extend it.


The board voted to remove a reference to China in the emergency ordinance. The draft ordinance referenced China as the location where the coronavirus originated.

Board member George Gordon asked that it be removed, arguing it wasn’t relevant.

The board approved the change 14-5. Board members Thompson, Lyndsay Bloomfield, Chuck Erickson, William Friedrich and George Wendt, all Republicans, voted to keep the reference.

McLean County has eight COVID-19 cases and one death. Illinois has surpassed 2,500 cases, including more than 1,000 in the last two days. Illinois reports 26 COVID-19 deaths.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.