Galesburg Interested In Joining 'Restore HOI' Reopening Plan | WGLT

Galesburg Interested In Joining 'Restore HOI' Reopening Plan

May 19, 2020
Originally published on May 19, 2020 5:39 pm
The city of Galesburg is considering joining the Restore Heart of Illinois phased reopening plan led by Peoria.
The 11-county reopening plan didn't include Knox County, which is northwest of Peoria County. Galesburg Mayor John Pritchard said he still has a few questions, but hopes to make a recommendation on its adoption soon.
"They've developed a very well-designed, medically sound reopening plan," he said. "And I've been taking a look at that, along with other leaders in the community, to make sure that the plan was appropriate, and would work, and we could operate it."
Several Galesburg councilmembers say they want to join the HOI plan.

"I think we're adults, and businesses can decide whether they want to open or not, as long as they do it in a safe manner," said Alderman Larry Cox.

"I definitely think it's time to reopen," said Alderman Bradley Hix.

Pritchard said Knox County has met the criteria to move onto the next phase of the governor's reopening plan for weeks. The wider "North-Central" region also hits the marks needed to begin reopening salons, barbershops, and other businesses with social distancing restrictions on May 29. But the Heart of Illinois plan would allow bars and restaurants to reopen at reduced occupancy more than a month earlier than Pritzker's statewide plan.

"We are seeing businesses crushed, peoples' lives crushed. And we have to be able to manage the virus and manage the economy at the same time. And I think we can do so," he said. "It's not an either-or choice. It's managing both situations."

Pritchard said he's also asked Knox County Board Chairwoman Pamela Davidson to consider inclusion in the plan.
Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said Tuesday that the Restore HOI plan could potentially expand its borders beyond the 11 counties currently defined.
"The beauty of what was designed within the HOI implementation plan is that it's scalable and replicable. And certainly it can be utilized in other regions and other parts of the state," Urich said. "And so I think if Knox wants to join, we'd be certainly open to discussing that with them here."
Urich also suggested counties that wish to be excluded from the HOI region may be able to do so, but said the group is still waiting on feedback from the governor's office.

The governor signaled Monday that he was unlikely to break down the large North-Central health region into smaller subregions that can reopen more quickly.

Knox County has 88 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. 1,337 tests have been conducted. There are 160 cases in Peoria County, 63 in Tazewell, and 17 in Woodford.

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