Carpentersville loses COVID-19 mass vaccination site
In a late reversal, Carpentersville will not host a COVID-19 mass vaccination site after all, a Kane County official confirmed Wednesday.
The decision was made late Tuesday, as county and state officials decided to change course on the announced plan for a two-pronged mass vaccination approach to address racial and ethnic disparities in who has received the shots so far.
Officials determined it would be operationally and financially more efficient to operate a single mass vaccination site in Batavia, according to county board member Jarett Sanchez. Sanchez leads the county board committee that oversees the county health department.
"It's really disappointing," Sanchez said about losing the Carpentersville site. Sanchez lives in Carpentersville.
Kane County officials had promoted the opening of a mass vaccination site in a former retail site on Western Avenue in Carpentersville that most recently housed a Big Lots store as a key part of addressing relatively low numbers of Black and Hispanic residents receiving the shots compared to their white peers.
Now, the county's only mass vaccination site will be in a former retail site at 501 N. Randall Road in Batavia that most recently housed a Sam's Club store. It is slated to open within a month.
"The Batavia site is definitely better than nothing," Sanchez said. "It's located not too far from Elgin and Aurora, which both have large Black and Hispanic populations. But for our residents on the north end, it's a bit far."
Sanchez said he will push the county to look into creating more pop-up vaccination events on the north end of the county to try to make up for the loss of the Carpentersville site.
"We are paying attention to those needs and want people to know we aren't neglecting them," he said.
County board members had raised some concerns with costs to rent the two sites.
The county board approved a rental agreement for the former Big Lots site in Carpentersville on Tuesday, pending the final details. It was expected the Carpentersville site could cost up to $300,000 in just rental costs for six months of use.
The larger, and cheaper, Batavia site -- rental cost of up to $220,000 for six months of use -- will now be staffed by the Illinois National Guard instead of a private company hired by the county, Sanchez said. The site will "easily" handle 18,000 doses per week, with the ability to scale up as more doses become available, he added.
County board Chair Corinne Pierog said none of the final details are locked in, even about the Batavia site, because no contract has been signed with the Illinois Public Health Department or the Illinois National Guard as of Wednesday morning. More discussion was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Despite the fluid situation, Pierog said, county officials will continue to work on getting more vaccines to the county, especially for the currently underserved minority groups.
"Everybody in Kane County who would like to have a vaccine, we are going to get them a vaccine," Pierog said. "Even if we have to come to their doors, we will find a way. Every person in Kane County is the most important person."