Erickson Seeks To Revive Regional Reopening Plan For McLean County | WGLT

Erickson Seeks To Revive Regional Reopening Plan For McLean County

May 15, 2020

A McLean County Board member wants to see the county go through with a regional reopening plan that many local leaders have abandoned.

Chuck Erickson of Bloomington plans to propose the county adopt the plan that would allow it reopen much of its economy on May 29.

He said he understands the health risks.

“These businessmen have taken a whole lot more risks than some of these local politicians,” Erickson said. “They are business owners and they take risks every day and they’ve got to get back going.”

Many local officials backed off the Restore Heart of Illinois plan (HOI) after Gov. JB Pritzker threatened to pull COVID-19-related federal funding to counties that violated his timeline.

Initially, Erickson proposed the county reopen much of its economy on May 23. The HOI plan would enable the county to open on May 29. The governor's plan could allow for a more modest reopening at that time.

“To me, if every county south of I-80 decides that they want to do something else, is he going to cut off the entire state of Illinois because everyone south of I-80 wants to do it just a little but differently than him? I don’t know.” Erickson said. “I don’t think that he would.”

Erickson said there’s growing opposition to the governor’s Restore Illinois plan and more counties are charting their own paths.

Woodford County’s top prosecutor has said he won’t enforce the state's stay-at-home order. Ford County this week passed a resolution allowing non-essential businesses to reopen as long as they adhere to social distancing and other health and safety guidelines. 

Pritzker also has said businesses that open prematurely could also lose their state licensing.

Peoria area officials who largely shepherded the subregion plan have been silent on whether they plan to continue after Pritzker threatened punishment.

Erickson said he doubts there will be much of a financial hit even if the county gets dinged on federal reimbursements.

“Sometimes, they are almost next to impossible to get anyway. FEMA funds are not always Johnny-on-the-spot. There may be little to hand out anyway,” he said.

McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez said Thursday the county hasn’t received any FEMA payments related to COVID-19, but added the county hasn’t submitted all expenses yet. She didn’t put a dollar figure on it.

“McLean County hopes to receive reimbursement from FEMA for applicable COVID-19 response expenses,” Rodriguez said.

Erickson plans to present the proposal at the County Board meeting on Tuesday.

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