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Illinois
Region 7 to return to indoor food service at 5 p.m. today
 09.18.20

Region 7, which includes Kankakee and Will counties, has returned to Phase 4 restrictions as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

On Aug. 26, Pritzker moved the region to stricter mitigations following three consecutive days of a rolling positivity rate above 8 percent. On Friday, the region had reached the threshold to lift mitigations of three consecutive days of a rolling positivity rate below 6.5 percent. Friday’s rate was at 5.6 percent.

The change means the two counties will be allowed to have indoor dining and bar service along with larger gathering sizes as outlined in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.

The return is “because residents chose to be all in for each other, for their small businesses, for their bars and restaurants, for their kids, for their neighbors,” Pritzker said in a press release. “Let that be a testament to the power of a community that embraces doctor-recommended mitigations proven to reduce risk and slow the spread. We can’t outrun this virus, but with the tools we know to work – masks, distancing, handwashing, and respect for public health and each other — we can beat it back enough to keep our businesses open and our neighborhoods safer all at once.

“Don’t let up now, Region 7, let’s keep this success going.”

The announcement from the state came the same day as warnings of positivity rates for 24 counties.

A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.

The counties currently reported at a warning level are Bond, Bureau, Cass, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeWitt, Edwards, Effingham, Greene, Jasper, Jo Daviess, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Rock Island, St. Clair, Shelby, Washington, Wayne, Williamson, Wabash and Union. Iroquois County had previously been at the warning level but has since leveled off.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 270,327 cases, which is up 2,120 from Thursday. The state has logged 8,411 deaths, up 20 since Thursday.

The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Sept. 11-17 is 3.6%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 61,918 specimens for a total of 4,982,856. As of Thursday evening, 1,481 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 329 patients were in the ICU and 149 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.


Illinois
Region 7 to return to indoor food service at 5 p.m. today
 09.18.20

Daily Journal staff report

Region 7, which includes Kankakee and Will counties, has returned to Phase 4 restrictions as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

On Aug. 26, Pritzker moved the region to stricter mitigations following three consecutive days of a rolling positivity rate above 8 percent. On Friday, the region had reached the threshold to lift mitigations of three consecutive days of a rolling positivity rate below 6.5 percent. Friday’s rate was at 5.6 percent.

The change means the two counties will be allowed to have indoor dining and bar service along with larger gathering sizes as outlined in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.

The return is “because residents chose to be all in for each other, for their small businesses, for their bars and restaurants, for their kids, for their neighbors,” Pritzker said in a press release. “Let that be a testament to the power of a community that embraces doctor-recommended mitigations proven to reduce risk and slow the spread. We can’t outrun this virus, but with the tools we know to work – masks, distancing, handwashing, and respect for public health and each other — we can beat it back enough to keep our businesses open and our neighborhoods safer all at once.

“Don’t let up now, Region 7, let’s keep this success going.”

The announcement from the state came the same day as warnings of positivity rates for 24 counties.

A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.

The counties currently reported at a warning level are Bond, Bureau, Cass, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeWitt, Edwards, Effingham, Greene, Jasper, Jo Daviess, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Rock Island, St. Clair, Shelby, Washington, Wayne, Williamson, Wabash and Union. Iroquois County had previously been at the warning level but has since leveled off.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 270,327 cases, which is up 2,120 from Thursday. The state has logged 8,411 deaths, up 20 since Thursday.

The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from Sept. 11-17 is 3.6%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 61,918 specimens for a total of 4,982,856. As of Thursday evening, 1,481 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 329 patients were in the ICU and 149 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.


Local
'Between the rock and the hard place'
 09.19.20

KANKAKEE — The business world has been negatively impacted in so many ways as a result of COVID-19 that it would be difficult to calculate what damage it has done to the bottom line of retail, restaurants, bars, gas stations, dentists, law offices, accountants or any establishment for that matter.

And the Kankakee County Health Department has the unpleasant task of making sure all rules — no matter how unpopular those may seem — are being followed.

The health department is not looking to add any more pain than it must to make sure all businesses are operating within the governor’s recently adopted administrative rules, Kankakee County Health Department administrator John Bevis said Thursday at the Kankakee County Board of Health’s regular meeting.

“This has put the health department between the rock and the hard place,” Bevis said.

Simply stated, there is no data or facts which have been determined what has led to increases in an area’s COVID-19 positivity rates. What has been stated, however, is that the pandemic and the following mandated shut-down of Illinois restaurants could cause up to 20 percent of them to close permanently.

And further stress on businesses in terms of fines or penalties for failure to follow restrictions can only hamper a business’ ability to remain open.

Kankakee County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler agreed.

“The goal here is public health, not writing tickets,” he said.

No one from the general public attended the meeting.

The so-called nuisance procedure for businesses — as adopted by the Kankakee County Board of Health on Thursday — deals with business compliance regarding the wearing of face coverings, signage regarding the use of facial coverage and compliance with social distancing.

If citizens have concerns that a business is not adhering to these rules, they can contact the Kankakee County Health Department. Through the department’s Environmental Health Division, it has up to seven days to conduct a site visit. The department then has seven days to complete its follow-up visit and another seven days to complete a third visit if the problem has not been rectified.

Persistent non-compliance could eventually lead to a misdemeanor arrest and a fine ranging between $75 to $2,500.

There is no language in the administrative rule regarding closing the businesses. The rule goes into effect immediately.

As they met Thursday, Region 7 was reportedly on the cusp of exiting additional mitigations by the state as the COVID-19 positivity rate within Kankakee and Will counties had fallen under the benchmark established by the governor’s office. At the time, it was expected that indoor dining and drinking would return to Kankakee County bars and restaurants this weekend. News came Friday morning that restaurants would be allowed to return to regular Phase 4 restrictions at 5 p.m. that day.

Bevis said in these harsh economic times associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, punishment is one of the last things his department would want to do.

Bevis added the governor is not giving health departments much assistance in how all this enforcement is to take place, which makes this rule even more difficult to deal with.

New health board member Neelie Panozzo, a nurse and also the owner of the Village Grill restaurant in Bradley, said no one has ever said the reason the positivity rate rose was due to bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants, however, have been targeted and have bore the brunt of the economic pain.

In the recent three-week return to more stringent regarding how these businesses can operate, indoor food and drink was banned in bars and restaurants.

However, if any business is not adhering to the rules, Bevis said a special health board meeting — with the business operator on hand — will be called to deal with the situation.

“We certainly want to try to get cooperation first,” Bevis said. “If we can’t, then we’ll go down another road.”


Local
Conversations on use of Strong Neighborhoods Home to continue
 09.19.20

KANKAKEE — The Strong Neighborhoods Home in Kankakee was opened to the public for the first time Wednesday evening.

A small group of community leaders gathered in the front living room to talk about goals for using the blue, two-story house at 591 S. Elm Ave moving forward.

Olivet Nazarene University students studying social work also joined in the conversation to help with community needs assessment with the city’s 2nd Ward residents.

Another open house is scheduled for 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Kankakee’s 2nd Ward residents are invited to join a focus group to discuss the needs in their community.

One of the questions on the short questionnaire provided asks how favorable the residents’ perception of their neighborhood is on a scale from 1 to 10.

Information gathered will be used to determine what specific programs and services are most needed in the neighborhood.

The house is a joint project through United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties, the city of Kankakee and its school district to offer social services for those in the general neighborhood. The city purchased the house for $90,000 using federal grants in late May.

The house is mostly empty, aside from some appliances in the kitchen and folding chairs in the living room.

The first office that has been set up is on the first floor, where Kankakee School District 111 has a base of operations to provide support for residents in the neighborhood.

Kerstin Rust, executive director of United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties, said the house is not technically open to the public yet.

She said the pandemic has slowed progress on using the home, but conversations from the open houses will be the first steps in figuring out where to go from here.

The goal is to continue having these conversations into October, then have the Olivet students return to share a report of their findings with community members.

“The first part is listening,” Rust said. “We have to take the time to listen and understand, and the residents have to be part of that in order for us to be effective.”

As far as her vision for the house, Rust said she would like the dividing wall in the living room to be torn down to create a more open gathering space.

She would also like to add patio furniture and a basketball hoop to the backyard to make the space feel inviting and comfortable for residents.

There’s also an empty garage where she envisions different activities could take place.

Upstairs, there are two empty offices which will likely be utilized by United Way and the Kankakee Police Department.

“We have a totally blank slate,” Rust said. “We can make this what we want it.”


Crime
Bond set at $5 million in homicide in Kankakee
 09.18.20

KANKAKEE — Bond was set at $5 million in Kankakee County Court on Thursday for Dejour Turner-Owens, who is facing charges in the homicide of Marquise J. Smith, 26, Kankakee, earlier this week.

Turner-Owens, 21, of Pembroke Township, was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, according to a document filed by the Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s office.

Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Reedy told Judge Clark Erickson that Smith was standing with a group out front of his home in the 1300 block of East Maple Street in Kankakee at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday when witnesses said they saw Turner-Owens approach the group.

A witness said they heard three shots and saw the shooter run from the area.

According to court documents, Smith was shot in the head and died later at Loyola University Medical Center in Cook County.

Chicago defense attorney Bart Beals is representing Turner-Owens.

In arguing for a lower bond, Beals said no witnesses reported seeing Turner-Owens shoot Smith.

“This is a serious case but my client is not a flight risk,” Beals argued before Erickson agreed with the state’s recommendation of $5 million.

Turner-Owens was out on bond for a 2019 case in which he is charged with felon in possession of a weapon. It was set to go to trial on Monday. Beals is his attorney in that case as well.

Turner-Owens was taken into custody on Tuesday while Kankakee police officers were investigating a report of shots fired at about 7:10 p.m. in the 300 block of South Wildwood Avenue.

Smith’s death is the sixth homicide in Kankakee County this year.