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La Salle County Health Department will work with businesses first on mitigations

Agency has received 7 complaints since measures went into place Wednesday

The La Salle County Health Department will notify businesses if there's been a complaint lodged against them. Their first action is to educate businesses.
The La Salle County Health Department will notify businesses if there's been a complaint lodged against them. Their first action is to educate businesses.

If any business is found not to be in compliance with the state’s new measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the region, the La Salle County Health Department will reach out with a call first in an attempt to educate the business.

After receiving a complaint, La Salle County Health Department officials call and inform the facility of the nature of the complaint and the appropriate mitigation guidelines.

“La Salle County Health Department prefers to take an educational approach rather than enforcement,” said Jenny Barrie, public information officer and health educator at the county agency. “We work closely with the establishment to educate them on the mitigation and safety guidelines and work toward achieving compliance.“

The health department has received seven complaints since Wednesday’s measures went into place.

Four of the complaints have been investigated, and three that were received Friday are pending, Barrie said.

The health department responds to all COVID-19 complaints it receives, she said.

“We notify and educate the facility of the appropriate mitigation or safety precautions to take to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” Barrie said. “If the complaint is founded and continues to occur with no compliance efforts, we have the ability to work with local city authorities, the state’s attorney’s office, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Police.”

At this time, the health department has no plans to post the complaints on its website, Barrie said.

City officials in Ottawa, Streator and Oglesby have said they will pass along complaints to the county health department when received.

Ottawa Police Chief Brent Roalson said Thursday that there have not been any reports of restaurants violating the COVID-19 mitigations that suspend indoor dining.

Roalson said officers on patrol have yet to come across any obvious violations.

“We’re more of a response as opposed to actively seeking out businesses,” Roalson said. “It’s more if someone calls to complain or a violation is noticed by citizens.

“We’re not aggressively patrolling for those guidelines.”

Beyond taking in and passing off complaints, Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei said he has not seen any directives nor executive orders on enforcing restrictions and said state – not municipal – law enforcement would be tasked with ensuring compliance.

All 11 of the state’s regions are under mitigations.

The region triggered mitigations after posting three days in a row of 8% of COVID-19 tests returned positive for the virus.

On Tuesday, the most recent day’s data available on the Illinois Department of Public Health website, the region registered a 10.7% positivity rate – up 0.3% from the previous day.

If the region has a positivity rate less than or equal to 6.5% over a three-day period, the region will return to lesser mitigations under the Restore Illinois Plan.

The mitigations for the health region include all bars closing at 11p.m. and opening no earlier than 6 a.m., no indoor service at bars or restaurants, a limit to 10 guests in both indoor and outdoor gatherings, no party buses, gaming and casinos closing at 11 p.m. (limited to 25% capacity) and a limit to fewer than 25 guests or less than 25% of overall capacity for recreational activities. Mitigations don’t apply to schools, which have their own set of guidelines.

The IDPH released contact tracing data Friday for Region 2, a multicounty region including La Salle, Livingston, Putnam and Bureau counties, stating that 512 individuals who tested positive, or 12% of cases that cooperated with health officials, said they have visited a restaurant or bar in the past 14 days.

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