McHenry County leaders want out of Northeast Health Region in Pritzker plan

McHenry County’s mayors and village presidents have asked Gov. JB Pritzker to move the county out of the Northeast Health Region in his Restore Illinois plan, which he announced last week.

McHenry County was placed in the same recovery region that covers Chicago and its surrounding counties. The mayors and village presidents of all 25 county municipalities sent Pritzker an eight-page letter Tuesday citing epidemiological data, hospital capacity and other statistics that McHenry County has met which could move to the next phase of the COVID-19 recovery plan, thus allowing more businesses and institutions to reopen with safeguards.

McHenry County currently is in Phase 2 of the five-phase plan. By being placed in the Northeast Health Region, McHenry County could not reopen some businesses until the other eight counties in the region meet the same criteria.

“I’ve said that we’re all in this together, but at the same time, it doesn’t make sense for McHenry County to be held back if we’ve met all the requirements until the other counties in our region catch up to us,” said McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo. “Our families and businesses are suffering, and every passing day prolongs that suffering. More jobs are forever lost, more businesses shuttered, and more people losing hope. We’ve laid out a very compelling case and a very responsible way to move forward while protecting the people, and I’m confident it will be well-received.”

The letter, signed by Franks and all 25 city leaders, begins with support for Pritzker’s approach to safely reopen businesses around the state, then offers data that the county has met criteria to enter Phase 3.

McHenry County has an infection percentage of 0.333 residents, a considerably lower percentage than neighboring Boone, Cook, Kane and Lake counties.

The letter cited several other statistics from the McHenry County Department of Public Health to show it is ready for Phase 3.

McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett was one of the leaders of the initiative and praised the effort of fellow leaders.

“I could not be prouder of the proactive efforts of the city administration, the cooperation of Chairman Franks, and the partnership of my fellow mayors and village presidents throughout the county with this proposal,” Jett said. “It not only ensures the continued safety of the residents of McHenry County, but also allows the businesses and employees of the county to reopen and begin to rebuild.”

Franks thanked the McHenry County Council of Governments for its leadership, along with the MCDH and County Board of Public Health and Community Services Committee Chairman Chris Christensen, R-Cary.

“As an organization that prides itself on local government coordination and collaboration, the McHenry County Council of Governments is pleased that our municipalities showed united support for this effort,” MCOG Executive Director Chalen Daigle said. “Through this pandemic, McHenry County communities have continued to work together and we hope that the governor reviews our data and adjusts our region accordingly.”