Cook County Board Extends Local State of Emergency
May 19, 2020 12:12PM
At Tuesday’s meeting for Discussion and Action Related to COVID-19 Pandemic Response, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to extend indefinitely its declaration of a local state of emergency related to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Cook County Emergency Management Director Mike Keyport requested the extension as part of the county’s emergency operations response to COVID-19.
“The continuation of a local emergency declaration allows the Emergency Operations Center [EOC] to remain active,” Keyport said. “This is key because the operations center helps make the purchases and decisions that protect lives within Cook County during this pandemic.”
EOC staff does this by staying current on the COVID-19 situation and all state and federal rules/recommendations pertaining to COVID-19.
Staff utilizes this information to coordinate a countywide emergency response plan; make equipment purchases; and solicit donations. The EOC staff updates the county board weekly regarding key activities, and it works collaboratively with local business and media regarding the pandemic situation and local response. As the situation evolves, the response effort does, too, Keyport said.
“Statistics show that the number of positive cases in the state continues to rise,” Keyport stated. “And, while Cook County does not yet have a confirmed case, we must be prepared. We are in this for the long haul.”
The board declared the local state of emergency in March and extended it for 30 days in April. Today’s action extends the local state of emergency until the board takes action to revoke it.
A copy of the declaration is included below for reference.
COOK COUNTY RESOLUTION #2020-32
CONTINUATION OF DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY
WHEREAS, COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a “novel” coronavirus that has not been found in people before, is highly contagious, is potentially fatal to all those infected, and is especially a fatality risk to older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease;
WHEREAS, coronavirus is known to spread rapidly among populations without preventative measures and rapid action by local authorities;
WHEREAS, since public health authorities discovered the first positive test result for coronavirus in the State of Minnesota in early March, 2020, 16,372 individuals have tested positive for the virus and over 731 deaths have occurred related to COVID-19 in this state; 105 positive cases and 13 related deaths have been identified in St. Louis County, the nearest major population center to Cook County; Cook County is the only county in Northeastern Minnesota which remains without a positive test result; and is one of only three counties which remain free of positive tests of Minnesota’s 87 counties; and the limited number of testing supplies available in the state has led public health officials to advise that these statistics may be a great underrepresentation of the actual number of individuals infected with the novel coronavirus;
WHEREAS, Cook County has a higher than average population of older adults and a high level of movement across its borders related to Cook County’s tourism industry and its seasonal population, yet the nearest intensive care unit is 70 to 145 miles away;
WHEREAS, the typical busy season for tourism and the migration of seasonal residents is imminent; and preventing the rapid spread of coronavirus and related fatalities among the Cook County population and its visitors requires decisive action by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, its staff, and Cook County public officials;
WHEREAS, Cook County has already been required to purchase, and will continue to purchase necessary equipment, software, and other technological resources to allow for teleworking and the provision of essential services to its citizens and visitors without increasing the risk of transmission of the coronavirus;
WHEREAS, Cook County anticipates being required to expend additional financial resources to prevent the spread of coronavirus and make related communications; and provide essential services to individuals in quarantine and isolation as a result of exposure to coronavirus or testing positive for the virus or COVID-19 illness;
WHEREAS, on March 17, 2020, at the request of the Cook County Emergency Manager and related to the foregoing circumstances, the Cook County Board of Commissioners declared Cook County in a STATE OF EMERGENCY during the COVID-19 outbreak in Cook County of March, 2020;
WHEREAS, on April 13, 2020, at the request of the Cook County Emergency Manager, the Cook County Board of Commissioners continued the local declaration of a State of Emergency given recommendations at the regional/state level that a local declaration could expire after 30 days, and this continuation included a 30 day limit given that analysis; but subsequent review of state statute leads to the conclusion that a local declaration of emergency may be indefinite until terminated by the local authority; and
WHEREAS, on May 19, 2020, the Cook County Emergency Manager requested that the Cook County Board of Commissioners make it clear that the local declaration of a State of Emergency remains indefinitely until terminated by the County Board.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that under its authority in Minnesota Statutes Section 12.29, the Cook County Board of Commissioners hereby indefinitely and without interruption continues the local declaration of a State of Emergency which it first declared March 17, 2020, for conditions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020.
Adopted by the Cook County Board of Commissioners this 19th day of May, 2020.
MOTION: Doo-Kirk. SECOND: Mills. All ayes.
I, Rena Rogers, County Administrator (Interim), hereby attest that the foregoing resolution was duly adopted by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on the 19th day of May, 2020.