COVID-19 infections at Orland Park Village Hall continue to rise
Confirmed cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 continue to increase in Orland Park with the latest numbers showing a rise of more than 30 percent over the past three weeks since July 1, 2020. Despite the increase, the Mayor continues to assert that the wearing of face masks is not necessary and the mayor’s board majority continues to forge ahead with public events, concerts and activities. The Village’s Sportsplex was closed for a cleaning after an employee there was diagnosed with the virus
By Ray Hanania
As coronavirus COVID-19 infections steadily increase in the Village of Orland Park among the public, infections also continue to rise among Village employees, the office of Mayor Keith Pekau confirmed Thursday.
Pekau distributed a press release confirming that an employee at the Sportsplex, which is owned and operated by the Village of Orland Park, tested positive for COVID-19, ordering the health club closed all day Thursday for a “additional cleaning and sanitizing.”
That brings the total number of Village employees who have tested positive over the past. few weeks to five. Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health released data on Thursday morning which indicated that the confirmed cases of coronavirus has jumped now 30.75 percent during the past 23 days from 530 cases to a new record high of 670 cases, an increase of 163 new cases over the 530 reported through the end of June.
“Since the CDC announcement of the pandemic and establishment of workplace safety guidelines in March 2020, the Village has provided employees in all departments with gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer. Additionally, the Village has implemented social distancing measures, daily temperature checks, and enhanced remote meetings. Employees who feel ill or who display any symptoms of COVID-19 are directed to refrain from reporting to work,” the village stated in a press release.
“After being closed to the public following the initial COVID-19 emergency declaration, the Sportsplex reopened on June 1, 2020. The safety of residents, customers, and employees continues to be the foremost priority for the Village of Orland Park.”
At the July 20, 2020 board meeting, Pekau revealed that the Village has seen a total of 35 COVID-19 fatalities, noting that 34 were residents of local senior/health care centers.
Although the numbers of confirmed cases are below those of the state and other areas such as Chicago, the confirmed cases is an issue for the Pekau administration because he has made such a high priority of declaring that the state cannot force people to wear face masks.
In a recent Village video statement, Pekau said, ““Again, all of the recommendations are to only use masks if you can’t social distance. So, social distancing is the most important thing that you can do. I have heard many people say, well, I can wear masks because the mask will keep me safe and I don’t need to social distance. That’s not true. We need you to social distance. That’s what’s got us here.”
Pekau has said that all of the resources employees need to protect themselves are being provided but several employees have saids that is not true, not just privately fearing retaliation from his administration but publicly such as the at the July 20, 2020 Village Board meeting.
At that meeting, Mia Cacciato, a Recreation Department program coordinator whose job was being eliminated by the Village, addressed the Mayor during the board meeting. Cacciato courageously challenged Pekau’s contradictions and failed policies. She also said the Village has failed to provide employees with the promised protective equipment.
“Many of us have met at many special events. We even met, Mayor, when you paraded around at each department last Fall to talk about your “get to know me” and your plans for the village, nearly three years after being elected to spew some nonsense about being fiscally responsible. Anyone with half a brain would know you have done nothing to back up those statements,” Cacciato told the board during the public participation period,” Cacciato said.
“These events often don’t make a profit let alone break even especially the ticketed concerts you decided we needed to host, and you still want to go through with them in the middle of the global pandemic. How is that fiscally responsible? Your words are worthless and you said it best at the last board meeting that you haven’t done anything. In my time as an intern and now as a program coordinator, I have seen countless examples of how your actions and decisions directly contradict everything you say you are doing for the village.”
Use this widget to listen to Cacciato deliver her statement to the board, or click this link.
Also at the meeting, the board accepted the expected retirement of Police Chief Tim McCarthy, and discussed the financial shortcomings of several of the concert and public events that have been held so far.
Click this link to view the video file of the Village Board Meeting of July 20, 2020.