Nearly 5% of Macon County residents tested positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks of 2022
Decatur and Macon County residents are now experiencing the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first two weeks of January, there were 5,116 new cases of COVID-19 among Macon County residents (4.9% of 103,998 residents). Other metrics are also near their pandemic worst including seven-day case rate per 100k – 2,518, % positivity – 21%, % hospital beds used, and % ICU beds used (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home). Simultaneously, the vaccination rate in Macon County is the lowest of any central Illinois county with a mid-sized city, thereby making Decatur citizens unnecessarily vulnerable to a deadly disease whose worst effects are now mostly preventable.
DECATUR RESIDENTS HAVE FEWER OPTIONS TO SAFELY MEET BASIC NEEDS AND EMPLOYEES ARE WORKING IN UNSAFE CONDITIONS
The Decatur City Council passed three COVID-19 safety laws in 2020 that are independent of the Governor’s indoor mask mandate that is also in effect. Among other things, these local laws require individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status. Violations of the city’s three COVID-19 safety laws are widespread and commonplace, with violations taking place routinely at many large and small businesses in Decatur. This has resulted in Decatur residents having fewer options to purchase groceries and other needed products safely, and employees working in unsafe conditions.
At its first meeting in January, the city council approved $300,000 for Dove, Inc. to provide rent, mortgage, and utility assistance to Decatur residents impacted by COVID-19. In describing the need for the funding, a letter from Dove, Inc. included the following information: “We are continuing to see a need. Particularly for the working family that has to stay at home with their children because of COVID exposure or due to having COVID. We see families who live paycheck to paycheck so losing even a week’s income puts them behind. For families who have multiple children this is particularly hard when you have to take off work multiple times. … We are seeing families reach out for assistance that have not ever had to do so before.”
Rather than having unsafe working conditions and people suffering the health and economic consequences because of it, the city can enforce its safety laws. I once again ask city management to enforce laws the city council passed to protect the public during this public health crisis. I thank the many entities that are following COVID-19 safety laws and taking precautions including being vaccinated and boosted, wearing face coverings indoors, and social distancing.
PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AT THE NEXT CITY COUNCIL MEETING
The next city council meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 18 at 5:30 PM in the Decatur Civic Center theater located on the second floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). The agenda includes action on the Brush College/Faries Parkway grade separation project, increasing video gambling fees for owners of the machines and establishments, and adoption of the city council’s priority goals.
Citizens are encouraged to attend meetings and express their views. Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person near the beginning of each city council meeting. In addition, citizens can provide comments regarding one regular agenda item per meeting for up to three minutes provided they notify the city in advance (and prior to the start of the meeting). You can request to speak on a particular agenda item at a council meeting by filling out an on-line form at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/advance-request-to-speak-at-council-meeting/.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss city issues with a council member, phone numbers and email addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE
An agenda and information about each agenda item for each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/.