County Health Board To Outline What's Needed For Reopening | WGLT

County Health Board To Outline What's Needed For Reopening

May 20, 2020

McLean County's Board of Health is studying how the county health department will have to respond when businesses start to reopen during the pandemic.

The board will meet Thursday to assess a County Board proposal to reopen the economy faster than Gov. JB Pritzker's timeline.

McLean County Board of Health President Carla Pohl says the health department wants to make sure the county is prepared for a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Credit Illinois State University

The County Board has scheduled a May 28 special meeting to consider adopting the Restore Heart of Illinois plan. None of the 11 counties carved out in the plan have taken action on the proposal. Most abandoned it after Pritzker threatened to withhold federal reimbursements tied to any COVID-19 outbreaks.

Board of Health President Carla Pohl said the county needs to have a handle on three things: testing, contact tracing and enforcement.

“That’s not something that we’ve done traditionally,” Pohl said. “I think we are all pretty concerned what that is going to look like and what kind of manpower that is going to involve.”

Pohl said the health department should expect many more complaints about social distance violations as more businesses reopen.

She said the county health department prefers to educate violators rather than penalize them.

“That works so much better when you work with a party to do some problem solving,” she said, adding she is  concerned about a diminished capacity for COVID-19 testing with the state-run community-based testing site at the Interstate Center scheduled to close on Friday.

She said the health department is working on other options, but it’s unclear if there will have a site secured by Friday. She said the county may be able to open its own testing site, but would need to handle the staffing. She added the county’s medical reserve corps could be activated to handle testing or enforcement.

Pohl said she considers the Board of Health’s role as advisory to what the County Board decides, but she said the health department wants to make sure the county is prepared for a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“There’s a continuum here,” she said. “You don’t want hospital admissions suddenly increasing because then the intervention is too late.”

Pohl added the public needs more education about wearing masks, noting they offer more protection for the people around you.

In setting the special meeting, County Board Chairman John McIntyre said he plans to support the Heart of Illinois reopening, but wants county health officials to provide their assessment before board members decide.

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