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Megan Bernard, Editor
1:24 pm CDT March 18, 2020

A state of emergency was declared at an emergency Winnetka Village Council meeting on Tuesday, March 17, reflecting the public health emergency the nation faces, caused by the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), according to a Village news alert. 

The declaration — signed and sealed by Village President Chris Rintz — went into effect immediately and can be accessed fully online, along with the meeting’s video, at villageofwinnetka.org. It can be renewed by Village Council on a weekly basis, per the alert. 

“The Illinois Department of Public Health has now confirmed localized community person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in Illinois, significantly increasing the risk of exposure and infection to Illinois’ general public and creating an extreme public health risk in the Village and throughout the State,” the declaration’s introduction says. “As has been experienced in other locales in the United States and around the world, [coronavirus] has the potential to infect large numbers of people in a short amount of time, placing extreme burdens on the health care system and the economy.”

In order to prevent the spread of the virus, and “to protect the residents of the Village from disease and death,” it says the declaration was necessary. 

The declaration of a state of emergency allows the Village to:

• Conduct emergency purchasing of goods and services necessary for the preparation for, response to, and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,

• Implement emergency staffing protocols and procedures as necessary for the preservation of public health and safety, and for the preservation of the health of Village employees, and

• Cooperate with other government agencies, taking steps to coordinate the Village resources and emergency operation with the State of Illinois, Cook County, and other local governments in and around the Village.

“The Village will keep you updated on our response to this rapidly evolving situation,” the alert says. 

The Village of Winnetka previously canceled all public meetings until further notice “to limit exposure to and spread of coronavirus,” according to a press release on March 12.

“This decision was made in order to limit exposure to and spread of coronavirus, promoting the health and safety of our residents, staff and elected officials,” the release says. “Given recommendations for social distancing by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Village is setting an example by suspending public meetings.”

The Winnetka Village Council also adopted an ordinance at the emergency meeting that council members may attend future meetings via video or audio conference. They can do so if the member is physically prevented from attending the meeting by personal illness or disability; employment purposes or the business of the public body; or a family or other emergency, according to the board packet.

As Village Hall and other Village buildings remain closed to the public, you may interact with the Village by following the instructions at villageofwinnetka.org/coronavirus-updates-from-the-village.