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Local

Trustee makes plea to administrator

Receives response to concern over impact on local businesses

These signs were placed in front of Sledgehammer's, a bar north of Oregon, on Oct. 3 explaining the business owners' decision to remain open despite new mitigation restrictions being put in place for counties in Region 1.
These signs were placed in front of Sledgehammer's, a bar north of Oregon, on Oct. 3 explaining the business owners' decision to remain open despite new mitigation restrictions being put in place for counties in Region 1.

A Mt. Morris village trustee and the Ogle County Health Department Public Administrator had an interaction via email late last week regarding the state’s COVID-19 mitigations impacting local businesses.

Trustee Jerry Stauffer crafted an email to Kyle Auman of the OCHD as well as Ogle County Board members, the media and State Rep. Andrew Chesney pleading for the OCHD to reconsider enforcing the measures.

“I urge you as local health officials to realize the overall picture, not just what the state is telling you to do and say no to this continued insanity and refuse to continue closing our fragile economy we have created and refuse to let the state dictate these unfair rules,” Stauffer wrote. “Please do the right thing and stop the shutdowns so our economy may recover.”

Auman responded to Stauffer and those included on the email and said the mitigations are vital to the county’s continued health. The OCHD administrator said data is trending in a negative direction.

“If we do not use non-medical public health interventions to slow the spread of the virus it will impact other areas of our economy not just our local family owned businesses,” Auman wrote. “So far we have avoided impacts on our healthcare system but I anticipate that we will see a surge and stress of our system before the year is over.”

Stauffer wrote that he believes the virus has been “over played in many respects” and that residents have been “duped to a large degree.”

Later in the email, Stauffer wrote that reported numbers of cases and deaths form COVID-19 have been “exaggerated” and “skewed.” He believes the mitigations target bars and restaurants with “absolutely no proof” that an increase in numbers has been caused by those establishments.

“The first shutdown caused irreparable financial damage to all of the establishments that were closed down while large box stores were allowed to remain open,” Stauffer wrote. “A second wave of shutdowns will be even worse for these same establishments who are still trying to recover.”

Auman disagreed with Stauffer’s comment that the virus is being overplayed. He said he understands the stress that recent months have put on local businesses and added the majority of them have been using mitigation appropriately.

The OCHD public administrator also acknowledged that there hasn’t been significant spread from bars and restaurants, but he believes that’s due to people not being truthful about where they’ve been when self-reporting for contact tracing.

Auman said he doesn’t believe the county, state or country has seen the worst of the virus yet.

“This is not fear mongering,” Auman wrote. “This is based on the fact that we are seeing rapid case growth regionally, less compliances with isolated and quarantined individuals, case growth which is nearing our capacity for contact tracing, unclear guidance and direction coming from the federal government, the growing number of people that say flat out they will not follow mitigation and several other factors.”

Auman believes local health officials have a “very clear” understanding of bigger pictures and have been attempting to use data and evidence-based practices to do what’s right for the community.

“We do not want to see any local business negatively impact or close unnecessarily,” Auman wrote. “There may be grant opportunities for small businesses in your community. We will continue to advocate for small businesses the best we can while protecting the public’s health.”

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