Shutdown supporters take on constitutional-rights backers in final Kane County COVID-19 chat
Supporters of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's COVID-19 efforts showed up in large numbers for the first time in the final Kane County public video discussion with residents about how the virus is affecting them.
But distrust of government statistics and unsubstantiated beliefs were still rampant among the more than 30 participants in Tuesday night's session.
The third video discussion between county residents and board Chairman Chris Lauzen saw a more even split among residents who support the stay-at-home order and those who want the economy to open sooner. The first two discussions featured mostly residents who supported opening local businesses, not wearing masks and ending the quarantine for people who aren't at the highest risk.
Many of those sentiments remained among the Tuesday night callers.
"I'm tired of being beat over the head with science," Mike Finneran said. "The scientists have been wrong from day one and over and over again. I'm begging you. This has to be the opportunity of a lifetime for a politician to protect our constitutional rights."
For many, those rights include not wearing a face mask in public. Several callers said they are going out without masks, are meeting with others and will not get a COVID-19 vaccine if one becomes available. Four people said they believe cures exist for COVID-19.
There is wide agreement among global health officials that there are treatments to assist recovery, but no cure.
Bogus belief in a cure and pledges to go without a mask fueled consternation from those who support being patient with science and the recommended prevention measures.
"The idea of a shutdown, if we actually practice it, where everybody wears a mask and takes responsibility for not contaminating others, you will see the economy recover much sooner," said Linda Robertson, who identified herself as a microbiologist. "I'm pleading with you. Watch the science. Read scientific articles."
Lauzen told resident Deborah Fisher that Kane County is seeing 99.8% of people who get the virus recover, meaning only 0.2% die. Statistics compiled by the Kane County Health Department show that as of Tuesday night, there had been 93 deaths out of 3,629 cases, or a 2.56% death rate.
Fisher didn't take Lauzen's figure as a sign to ease the prevention measures.
"That says, 'Yay, Kane County is taking this seriously,'" Fisher told Lauzen. "People in Kane County are doing what needs to be done to keep us safe. That accounts for the good statistics. I hope we keep on doing it until we can get back to normal."
In what he described as an effort to address some of the mistrust of government COVID-19 statistics, Lauzen pushed a vote by the county board on whether Coroner Rob Russell should continue to have the ability to publish the numbers of COVID-19 deaths he's compiling in the official county newsletter.
Russell's stats are different from what the county health department reports. His stats include all COVID-19 deaths in the county, not just those of county residents. For example, the number of people from other counties who die in a Kane County hospital is marked with an asterisk in the reports.
Board members decided, in a 12-11 vote, to allow Russell to continue publishing the numbers in the newsletter. Supporters argued Russell's stats are accurate and more detailed than what the health department makes available.