Coronavirus COVID-19 infections continue to surge in Orland Park: Opinion

Coronavirus COVID-19 infections continue to surge in Orland Park: Opinion
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Coronavirus COVID-19 infections continue to surge in Orland Park: Opinion

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase, not dissipate in Orland Park in part because of the failure of the Mayor to serve as a role model for strong anti-infection practices including the wearing of face masks. Pekau has opposed efforts to require the wearing of face masks which every responsible medical official including at the CDC recommends as an effective way to prevent COVID-19 infection coupled with other measures including social distancing, and washing hands and surfaces constantly.

By Ray Hanania

In the wake of the casual attitude of the Village of Orland Park’s government, the infection rate for Coronavirus COVID-19 continues to increase at an alarming rate with the new totals jumping dramatically again during the past month by nearly 1,200, an infection rate that reflects a 10.1 percent positivity rate.

The current infection total in Orland Park is 4,659, compared to 3,463 recorded on Dec. 1, 2020, one month ago. The monthly rate continues to increase in part, many critics argue, because of the loose policies of Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau when it comes to the wearing of face masks. Pekau has urged that residents maintain social distancing and take precautions, but he has always stopped short of urging residents to wear face masks, and he led a fight to defeat a proposal to mandate the wearing of face masks, even though most responsible businesses that are concerned for the public well-being have posted signs requiring the wearing of face masks in their businesses.

The increase to 4,659 reflects a 10.1 percent positivity rate for the total tests taken of 46,242, according to data released by the Illinois Department of Public Health’s public website.

Orland Park Trustee Kathy Fenton wearing a face mask. Photo courtesy of Village of Orland Park

Orland Park Trustee Kathy Fenton wearing a face mask. Fenton was ridiculed at a prior meeting by one of Pekau’s minions for wearing the face mask during a board meeting. Photo courtesy of Village of Orland Park

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10.1 percent infection rate in Orland Park.
The infection rate continues to go up and down but it is maintaining
a steady and disconcerting rate in Orland park.
The monthly increase in infections continues to surge

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The CDC recommends that Americans’ wear face masks but Pekau and his allies on the Orland Park Village Board refuse to wear them except in exceptional circumstances. They seem to want to avoid serving as role models for precautions to prevent COVID-19 infections arguing that everyone should do what they feel is needed, based on their individual circumstances.

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Orland Park has a population of 58,312 residents. Almost 10 percent of the village population has been infected, and that only reflects those who have taken the COVID-19 tests. If more take the test the infection rate would certainly be expected to grow.

Pekau’s defenders have personally attacked anyone who has challenged the mayor’s position on the fight against the virus and the wearing of face masks, avoiding addressing the issues and instead focusing almost completely in personal attacks and name calling.

For example, Mayor Pekau and his small collection of supporters, have attacked Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady for his expressions of concerns for the community and his urging of residents to take the step of wearing face masks whenever they are in public.

Here’s the tabulation that you will not find on the website of the Village of Orland Park which appears to be downplaying the virus threat, and by a Mayor who appears to not be taking the infection rate seriously enough.

    • Jan. 1, 2021: 4,659 total infections.
    • Dec. 1, 2020: 3,463 total infections.
    • Nov. 1, 2020: 2,094 total infections.
    • Oct. 1, 2020: 1,398 total infections.
    • Sept. 1, 2020: 1,078 total infections.
    • Aug. 1, 2020: 781 total infections.
    • July 1, 2020: 530 total infections.

It’s pretty clear that the infection rate would have gone down and not continued its strong surge upwards had the Mayor taken a more serious approach to the pandemic, not turning it into a political issue and seeing Coronavirus as a truly threatening health issue.

The infection rate coincidentally began to surge after one of Pekau’s Village Board trustee minions , who wasn’t wearing a face mask during the board meeting, last April ridiculed another trustee who was wearing a face mask suggesting she wear Duct Tape over her mouth, instead of a face mask.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and his allies on the board not wearing face masks during the recent lighting of the Village Christmas Tree, Nov. 29, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Village of Orland Park Facebook Page.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and his allies on the board not wearing face masks during the recent lighting of the Village Christmas Tree, Nov. 29, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Village of Orland Park Facebook Page.

Pekau has attempted to assert that his attitude towards the coronavirus is based on his concerns for local small businesses. But the surge in infections actually hinders the progress of small businesses returning to normal with more and more residents realizing that failure to take strong measures to confront the virus is allowing the pandemic to continue unabated longer. Many residents rightly refuse to enter any business that does not have a clear sign requiring customers to wear face masks. 

Why take the health risk in those businesses with the lax policies?

It was in April 2020 that Trustee Dan Calandriello recommended that the Village Board take action to support small businesses, but Pekau blasted Calandriello and his board minions, placing politics over people, blocked Calandriello’s efforts. It wasn’t until six weeks later that Pekau reversed himself and claimed that he was concerned about the virus impact on businesses and initiated weak policies to help those small businesses.

Pekau has isolated himself from state and regional public officials, denouncing nearly all of them from Governor to State Legislators to the Township in a political move to define his extreme rightwing agenda he believes will appeal to many in Orland Park.

But although Orland Park voted for President Trump over Joe Biden in the Nov. 3, 2020 election, Trump’s vote attracted support from not only Republicans, conservative and centrist to conservative Democrats. Those patterns will not translate into support for Pekau’s extremist political agenda which is based on aggressively attacking his critics personally and frequently. That vicious style of personal attacks by Pekau is his weakness and will be his undoing.

Face mask signs posted by businesses in Orland Park that are demonstrating concern and leadership is helping to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Face mask signs posted by businesses in Orland Park that are demonstrating concern and leadership is helping to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

In the November 3, 2020 election, Trump received 23,869 votes within Orland Township. A total of 18,454 votes went to Joe Biden. Trump’s support actually dropped significantly from 24,841 cast for him in 2016 when he defeated Hillary Clinton.

Pekau has attacked anyone who has dared to challenge his dictates and political tyranny, attacking journalists, columnists, elected officials and community activists in the most personal and vile manner.

The real question is though, can Orland Park residents and businesses survive even three month months of Pekau’s government control and failures. His inability to work with other elected officials has cost Orland Park millions in support and funding. Orland Park has been pushed to the back of the line when it comes to the state. And while Pekau blames that on Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the real cause is his failure to be able to build coalitions and reach consensus.

It’s all or nothing for Pekau as the village stumbles into the April elections and we know how that strategy ends.

Face mask signs posted by businesses in Orland Park that are demonstrating concern and leadership is helping to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Face mask signs posted by businesses in Orland Park that are demonstrating concern and leadership is helping to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

 

Face mask signs posted by businesses in Orland Park that are demonstrating concern and leadership is helping to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Face mask signs posted by businesses in Orland Park that are demonstrating concern and leadership is helping to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

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