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State legislators expressed concern with Will County being placed in the same region as Cook County in Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan to reopen parts of Illinois as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, said she and her colleagues have “expressed uneasiness” about Will County possibly seeing a delayed reopening because it was placed in the same region as Cook County.
She argued in a news release the situation in Cook County was unique and “should be addressed separately” and pointed out Will County has far fewer confirmed cases and deaths from the disease.
“Most people I speak with understand the need for caution, but are prepared to work under new safety precautions,” Bertino-Tarrant said in the release. “If my district stayed in the same region as Chicago and Cook County, it would most likely be the last part of the state to open.”
As of Thursday, Will County reported about 4,000 cases and 230 deaths, while Cook County has over 24,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths.
State Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, also expressed concern about Will County’s placement in the plan.
“I think there’s a way to balance public health and the reopening of many businesses but it will take the cooperation of the community,” Manley said in the release. “The last thing we want is to crush the hospital system and endanger the health and safety of our first responders.”
To that end, Bertino-Tarrant said she reached out to the Will County Health Department to discuss local needs and prepare if the governor adjusts the plan. She added the effort needs to be led by the county health department since it is responsible for monitoring and reporting cases locally.
State Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, also said he would work with Bertino-Tarrant and the Will County Health Department to gather more information to determine if the area is ready to go to the next phase.
Multiple other Will County elected officials have argued the county should be in a separate region.