Local Officials Consider When Businesses Can Reopen

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Almost five weeks after Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a statewide stay-at-home order, many are wondering how long this will last and when businesses can reopen so they can get back to work.

DuPage County Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala said though case numbers continue to grow, there hasn’t been the exponential growth that other countries and communities have seen.

“I think the reason that we’re not seeing that is because of the high levels of compliance that we’ve been able to achieve with our neighbors, friends, and families in DuPage County,” said Ayala.

Too Early To Tell

Ayala said DuPage County is seeing a flattening of the curve, but it’s too soon to tell if that will continue. The Will County Health Department agreed, saying in a written statement “there is no way we can tell if the curve is flattening unless we see a slowdown in cases over several days.”

But when will it be safe to reopen businesses and get workers back on the job?

“So what we’ve been talking about a lot within our leadership team and our command structure at the health department is really what we’re looking for is 14 straight days of decreasing case activity,” said Ayala. “We’re also looking at do we have adequate access to testing.”

Chirico Advocating for May 1

Mayor Steve Chirico recently posted on Facebook that he believes certain businesses in Naperville could be allowed to reopen as early as May 1, though that decision is in the hands of the state.

He said the city is using statistics from the DuPage County Health Department to estimate “active cases” of COVID-19. By subtracting cases that are older than 14 days, the average recovery time for the disease, Chirico believes Naperville hit its peak on April 16.

“That also corresponds with the hospital data that we have been getting on a daily basis which shows their capacity limits and bed counts,” said Chirico. “They have been also, inpatient counts have been declining. They’ve been very, very flat for about two weeks but they’ve been declining over the last several days.”

Low Risk Businesses First

Chirico is advocating for an interval system to reopen businesses, starting with those with a low risk of transmission – like offices where social distancing can be maintained.

“So I would envision those businesses and activities coming online first. And then we pause and then we monitor. We find out if we are seeing any changes in our active case loads,” he said.

Lots of Engagement

More than 400 comments have been made on Chirico’s Facebook post, some agreeing and some opposing.

Moving forward, Chirico says he plans to continue to monitor data from the health departments to help guide any decisions for the city.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.


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