State of Emergency
Today, after calling a Special City Council meeting, I declared a State of Emergency in Highland Park. The Declaration of Emergency can be downloaded here. By doing so, specific increased temporary powers are provided to allow City officials to more quickly address life, health and safety issues arising in connection with the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Special City Council meeting agenda and video can be viewed here. During the meeting, City Manager Ghida Neukirch also provided important information addressing City operations and staffing.
Social Distancing to Slow the Spread of the Virus
This week has seen dramatic steps being taken to accelerate social distancing in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the anticipated challenges to our health care system. In recent days, our city has experienced the closure of all public access to City buildings (except the Police Station), the Senior Center, the Library, all schools, all Park District facilities, Ravinia Festival, the Art Center and more. While these steps may seem extreme, they are advised by the careful guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health, which urges all Illinois residents to reduce social contact as much as possible.
The City has canceled all public meetings, including board and commission meetings, and staff meetings will be conducted via conference call where possible. Administrative hearings are postponed until May, and any individuals with hearings scheduled in March and April will be notified by the Office of the City Clerk.
I cannot stress this enough: stay home. Let's do everything we can to minimize social contact and slow the spread of this virus. If your kids are home or coming home form college, please keep them at home. This is not a time for gatherings, for hanging at friends' houses. We know that younger people tend not to show major symptoms of the virus, yet shed the virus into their environs. By visiting each other, we can spread the risk to older adults and people with underlying health issues.
What if I Think I am Sick?
The Lake County Health Department advises the following:
Call your doctor. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.
Do not walk into a healthcare facility, urgent care clinic, or hospital before calling. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor. If your doctor believes that you need to be tested for COVID-19, your doctor should call the Lake County Health Department Communicable Disease program to arrange for you to be assessed.
Anyone who is not feeling well, should seek medical care without fear. Documentation status will not be checked before care is provided. It is critical that everyone get medical help if needed, as quickly as possible.
What City Services are Still Provided?
Essential City services will continue to be offered in a limited capacity from the Highland Park Police Department. There will be no reduction in services for public safety or water production and the City encourages residents to conduct business online or by phone where possible. As this is a developing situation, the City will continue to share updates to its website at cityhpil.com and on social media. Residents are encouraged to sign-up for City e-notifications via the City website as well.
There will be no reduction or changes to critical emergency services, water distribution or garbage collection. In addition to its own pandemic response planning, the City has also established contingency plans in close collaboration with neighboring communities and sister governments. Residents should continue to call 911 in an emergency.
Questions for the City of Highland Park should be directed to 847.432.0800, where individuals will be asked to leave a message for the appropriate department or in the general mailbox. City staff will be monitoring voicemail and responding as quickly as possible. After-hours, individuals may contact the Police Department non-emergency number at 847-432-7730. Residents may also send questions to email@example.com . The Police Department’s non-emergency line should only be used for non-emergency questions or concerns for public safety personnel.
These measures will allow the City to focus resources on its most critical services, while allowing other services to function as needed. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we take these steps to ensure the safety of the public and City staff.
Additional information about the availability of services throughout Highland Park will be posted at cityhpil.com/coronavirus-closures , and to the City’s social media accounts, and will be updated as information becomes available. Residents are encouraged to please check government websites regarding previously scheduled programs.
How Can I Help?
Support the Food Pantry
Moraine Township Food Pantry is experiencing shortages and needs our help. Support a local business by calling Sunset, Jewel, or Anton's, who all deliver; or order online via Target and Amazon.
Please only schedule deliveries on weekdays between 8:30 and 4:30.
Oatmeal - cannisters, packets or cups
Canned fruit or fruit cups
Cereal – all kinds
Boxes of crackers – all kinds
Mac & Cheese
Moraine Township, 800 Central Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035.
Drop-offs are accepted as well - leave any groceries on the tables outside. (Social distancing.) Someone will bring them inside immediately. Cash donations are also accepted at www.morainetownship.org . Let's step up and fill the shelves for our neighbors in need.
For those concerned about students who get meals at school, on Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education was granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue providing meals to students in non-group settings. So students receiving free and reduce priced breakfasts and lunches will be able to receive grab-and-go meals each day, with some districts having the ability to deliver and others offering parent pick-up.
Check on Your Neighbors
As we self-quarantine and socially distance ourselves, concerns about seniors and others becoming isolated are critically important. While the City is offering well-being checks, we need your help.
Think about your neighborhood and your network. Who is living alone? Who may get sick with no one knowing? Who may run out of food or medication with no way to get help? We all know people who are elderly, disabled, living alone or otherwise unable to get what they need during this crisis. Please make a plan to check on them daily. It can be by phone, by email or by a door knock and then a few steps back from the door, if they are sick.
If we all, street by street, block by block, think of who needs to be checked on, we can keep ALL members of our community safe. And if that friend, neighbor, or family member doesn’t respond, please call the police (847-432-7730) for a visit.
Keeping Our Community Safe
Together, we can care for each other and pull through this time of challenge. Have any questions, ideas or concerns? Drop us a line at Council@cityhpil.com .
On behalf of myself and the City Council, please join us in sharing appreciation for our City staff, first responders, health care providers, sister governments at the federal, state, county and local levels, and everyone who has been working around the clock to take steps to keep our community safe.