Lake County Board drops COVID-19 emergency declaration

The Lake County Board has officially ended its COVID-19 disaster proclamation, more than 1,000 days after Chair Sandy Hart signed it into effect on March 13, 2020.

The move to drop the “disaster” label, which allowed the county to access state and federal pandemic funding and other response and recovery experts, comes as the country has moved on from most coronavirus mitigation measures nearly three years after its spread prompted economic shutdowns.

Hart, D-Lake Bluff, said although Illinois and states like California and Texas still have disaster declarations in place, the county was comfortable with allowing its declaration of emergency to expire in December.

“After speaking with Emergency Management (Agency) manager Dan Eder, staff recommended starting off the new board term without that (declaration),” she said.

She said staff will continue to work on distributing personal protective equipment and other aspects of the county’s COVID response, adding she would bring the declaration back for a vote if health professionals, “think we need to reinstate it.”

Lake County has recorded over 173,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the Lake County health department.

District 3 board member Ann Maine reported in her Board of Health Report that Lake County has returned to “medium community level (transmission)” along with about 45 other Illinois counties, and about 28 counties remain at “high” transmission.

According to the LCHD, 1,508 people have died of COVID-19 in Lake County since it recorded its first cases.

Maine said Lake County remains ahead of the country when it comes to vaccination rates, as over 87% of county residents ages 5 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to LCHD numbers.

The Lake County Health Department reported four deaths and 57 hospitalizations between Jan. 1 and Jan. 7.

“Stay up to date with your vaccines, get tested if you have symptoms and talk to a health care provider,” Maine said.

Illinois has recorded nearly four million coronavirus cases and more than 35,000 deaths, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Maine also updated the board about the prevalence of influenza and RSV on Tuesday, noting the county has seen an increase in hospitalizations related to flu-like symptoms.

Darrell Road renovations

The board unanimously voted Tuesday to allocate $8.1 million in motor fuel tax funds to realign and install a roundabout along a 1.3-mile stretch of Darrell Road at its intersections with Case Road and Neville Road in Wauconda Township, kicking off the first construction phase in a project expected to lessen the frequency of accidents and alleviate potential traffic congestion.

“This project is going to improve intersections that right now are very wonky,” District 15 board member Jennifer Clark said.

Lake County deputy communications officer Alex Carr said the project has been “long in the making,” with public meetings first taking place in 2015.

“How those intersections are currently lined up, if you drive out there you’ll notice they are not very squared up and there are safety challenges out there,” Carr said.

A Lake County Division of Transportation study analyzing crashes throughout the area intersections from 2013 to 2017 found there were 48 accidents, including nine resulting in injuries. It also estimated traffic could double by 2040 along parts of Darrell Road.

A bike path is also set to be added between Fisher Road and its intersection with Case Road and Neville Road.

Construction on roundabouts at the intersection of Fisher Road and Darrell Road and the intersection of Darrell Road and Dowell Road is expected to begin in 2024.