Lake County Board extends emergency declaration until June 28

After an occasionally heated debate, the Lake County Board on Friday again extended an emergency declaration stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.

The extension allows Chairwoman Sandy Hart and other county officials to make purchases and other decisions regarding the pandemic without board approval through June 28. It also enables officials to continue operating an emergency operations center and keeps the county eligible for state and federal emergency funds.

The declaration was scheduled to expire today.

Meeting remotely Friday morning because of the pandemic, the board voted 18-3 to extend the county's resolution.

Republicans Michael Danforth of Fox River Grove, Judy Martini of Fox Lake and Brent Paxton of Zion cast the "no" votes.

Before the vote, Martini voiced concerns about governmental and community responses to the pandemic, including doubts about the effectiveness of contact tracing among Latinos because of what she described as a distrust of government.

That prompted a brief rebuke from Hart. The Lake Bluff Democrat said Latinos and other minorities are being disproportionally affected by the virus because many have been working at jobs considered essential to the economy.

Hart's comment, in turn, drew criticism from Danforth, who said she wasn't following the board's rules governing how the chair is supposed to join a debate.

Danforth later accused the government of acting "tyrannical" and of violating the constitutional right to gather for religious services by keeping churches closed despite allowing people to shop in Costco stores.

"I wonder if the cure is not worse than the disease itself," Danforth said.

Church restrictions were relaxed on Thursday, leading several Lake County churches to drop a lawsuit over them. As of Thursday night, the county health department had reported 8,134 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and 272 deaths.

Martini pointed out that cases at long-term care facilities represent most of the deaths. Afterward, Gurnee-area Republican Steve Carlson expressed dismay about what he sees as a devaluing of human life.

"I think we're getting numb to this," Carlson said.

Prompted by Lincolnshire Republican Ann Maine, the board added language to Friday's resolution saying the county's emergency operations plan will remain in place for at least 14 days after the declaration's termination to continue dealing with the crisis.

Martini was the only board member to oppose the amendment.

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