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Update: Thursday, October 1, 2020
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
As we enter the autumn season I would like to say how honored I am to be part of the Oak Brook Community. The resilience and creativity we have witnessed this summer in the midst of the Pandemic is inspiring. Residents found ways to enjoy the summer despite the restrictions. We came together as a community, adapted to the constraints we were subject to and found ways to enjoy family and friends. Now that the school year has started, children are required to acclimate to a new way learning. Remote classes, face masks in the classrooms, social distancing and the elimination of sports and after school activities are just some of the hurdles school children need to overcome. With the help of family and community I am confident that they will thrive in their new environment until things go back to normal.
There are some Oak Brook traditions that continued during these trying times. The Oak Brook Golf Club has been a respite for those of us suffering from cabin fever. Whether golfing or just enjoying some refreshments on the patio it has been a welcome distraction from the mandated quarantine. Oak Brook Polo was able to host Polo matches, they adapted to the guidelines set forth by the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan by having tailgate areas for spectators to social distance while viewing the match. After a very successful season we look forward to next year.
In Village news, construction continues throughout our area. Senior Lifestyle and Restoration Hardware have begun construction. The Village Board approved two new redevelopment projects in Oak Brook. At the Oak Brook Commons Hines Development, a new 70,000 square foot seven story medical office building was approved replacing of one of the condominium buildings. The facility will provide comprehensive care including a women’s center, family care, orthopedics and pediatrics to Oak Brook residents and those in the surrounding communities. The other condominium building will remain in the development.
The second redevelopment project that the Board approved was for GW Properties on the 10 acre Macy’s Furniture property just east of Costco. Some of the proposed businesses coming into the development include Lazy Dog Brewery, Panera, Kura Sushi, Urban Plates, Wildberry Café, Olive Garden, Blackberry BBQ, a veterinary clinic and a Montessori school.
Oak Brook is demonstrating that it is a relevant and desired community by having these and other high profile projects select to build here. And while the Village is progressive in its vision of the future we are still rooted in tradition and the sites that make this town unique. At the Village Board meeting on September 8th the Board voted to adopt a Resolution In Opposition To The Graue Mill Dam Removal. We believe that this historic treasure should be preserved for generations to enjoy.
Lastly, I would like to remind everyone to continue to follow the guidelines for staying safe until the COVID-19 vaccine is available. The total number of people who have been infected in our country since the pandemic began is now nearly 7 million. Many have recovered, but more than 202,800 have died of coronavirus in the US. 2020 has been a rough year for our citizens, but we hope and pray that, this too, shall pass, and that our economy, our life, and our livelihoods will return to normal in the near future.
The trustees, our staff, and I are here to serve you. Feel free to reach out to us if there are any concerns, thoughts, or ideas you would like to share.
Thank you for your kind attention.
COVID-19 UPDATE #17 Saturday, July 18, 2020 8:00PM
Since yesterday, there are 77 new cases of Covid-19 in DuPage County including 2 deaths reported. The day before, there were 111 new cases including 2 deaths. Statewide, the positivity rate shows a steady decline to 2.77% today, with 21% decline in death rates this week as compared to last week.
Few days ago, Governor Pritzker reconfigured the state into 11 newly described regions, with Chicago and Cook County becoming Region 11 and Region 10 respectively. DuPage County is now combined with Kane County to become Region 8. This will help better identify increase in Covid-19 disease burden with simultaneous decrease in hospital capacity or if there are 3 consecutive days averaging > 8% test positivity rate. These indicators can then be used to identify resurgence of the pandemic in a specific region, so as to then appropriately target mitigation strategies. Suffice it to say, no collar counties are now tied to the performance of Chicago or Cook County which should be a relief for many of us.
The positivity rate for Region 8 (DuPage and Kane) is now ar 3.7%, which is a respectable number, since the goal is to stay less than 5%. The positivity rate for DuPage County alone is even lower, ~ 2.5%. The other metric being reviewed is hospital bed availability. Currently Region 8 has 34% of hospital beds available, and 47% of its ICU beds available. The target is to have at least 20% of the beds available.
OAK BROOK SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Finally, three W’s have become our new way of life and this practice needs to be maintained till an effective antiviral drug &/or a safe vaccine is developed.
1: Wear a mask.
2: Watch your distance.
3: Wash your hands frequently.
COVID-19 UPDATE #16 Friday, July 3, 2020 10:00PM
As we celebrate our Fourth of July weekend without official fireworks or parades, the State of Illinois Covid-19 death toll today passes 7,000. Illinois reported 868 new cases and 18 additional deaths today.
In DuPage County, 62 new cases were reported today including 1 death. Our DuPage County hospitals have 221 of its 520 ICU beds available, and 387 out of 571 ventilators available. DuPage hospitals include: Advocate Good Samaritan, Northwestern Central DuPage, Edward Hospital, Amita Health Hinsdale and Glen Oaks Hospitals, Elmhurst Hospital, and Loyola Medical Center.
Since last week, Oak Brook total cases went up by just 1, now totaling up to 112 cases as of few hours ago. Most of the cases including deaths are from the one long term care facility we have. It is not that we have a Covid outbreak at this facility, but the relatively high numbers are due to the fact this is one of the few facilities that will take Covid positive patients.
The positivity rates statewide is 2.5% today, and 2.7% for the Northeast region. The positivity rate for Oak Brook is 2% today. As the charts below indicate, we have been able to maintain these very low rates for several days, thanks to our residents following established guidelines. A good metric is to stay below 5% at all times, and we certainly have been well below that for quite a while.
Herd immunity occurs when a large segment of a population (the “herd”) becomes immune to the disease, making the spread of the Covid-19 infection from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole population is protected, and not just those who are immune.
There are 2 paths to herd immunity for Covid-19: vaccine and infection. Vaccine would be the best way since theoretically it protects without causing illness or complications. Herd immunity makes it possible to protect the population from infection including those who can’t or don’t want to be vaccinated. Examples of great success using the concept of herd immunity include contagious diseases such as small pox, polio, measles, and diphtheria, However, it should be noted that protection from vaccine can wane over time, requiring revaccination. Some people may object to vaccines due to religious or other reasons. Suffice it to say, an effective and safe vaccine is unlikely to be available for ~ 1 year, if at all.
The second way to herd immunity is when a sufficient number of people in the population develop an active infection, recover from it, and then go on to develop antibodies preventing them against future infection. Two caveats here: first, it is not clear as yet if the first covid-19 infection makes a person immune to a future infection. Second, even if the Covid infection creates long-lasting immunity, a large number of people would have to become infected to reach the herd immunity threshold. 70% of the population, meaning more than 200 million people in USA, would have to recover from an active Covid infection to be able to halt the epidemic. That would not be an easy proposition.
HOW DO WE SLOW THE SPREAD?
1. Avoid large gatherings and events.
2. Avoid close contact (within 6 feet).
3. If there is a spike in your community, stay home as much as possible, especially if you have preexisting illnesses (such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and lung disease), or are in the vulnerable group.
4. Frequent hand washing with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
5. Wear face masks in public spaces.
6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
7. If sick, stay home, and avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other items with members of the household.
8. If sick, avoid public transportation, taxis and ride-sharing.
9. Clean and disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics, and counters daily.
The first two charts below show the tremendous progress made in Illinois over the last several weeks of the pandemic. The third one is from Texas Medical Association which lists the gradation of risk of acquiring Covid-19 infection from various day-to-day activities.
With the reopening of many businesses, we are enjoying life again, and cherishing the joy of freedom that comes with it. But, always be vigilant, be safe, and be prayerful. The virus is not going away for quite a while. We need to learn to coexist with Covid, and it would be wise to follow all the guidelines if current spikes in Covid-19 infection in other states are to be prevented.
COVID-19 UPDATE #15 Saturday, June 27, 2020 8:00PM
As we get to cherish further re-opening of our economy & our businesses in Oak Brook and our surrounding communities, it is reassuring to report to you that Covid-19 activity all across Illinois is continuing to show further downward trend in numbers and downward slide in its acuity. As an example, Covid-19 deaths in Illinois are down to 248 this week, compared to 338 last weeks, an improvement of 26.2%.
In DuPage, since yesterday there are 49 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, and one death. The previous day, we had 44 new cases and three deaths.
Since last week, Oak Brook total cases went up by 4, now up to a total of 111 cases as of few hours ago. Most of the cases in Oak Brook are the one long term care facility we have on Midwest Road. It is not that we have an outbreak at this facility, but the relatively high numbers are due to the fact that this long term facility is one of the few facilities in the area that will take COVID positive patients.
HEALTH METRICS:Our percent positivity rate in Illinois is at 2.6% today. For DuPage, it is 1.9% today. Percent positivity rate is a calculation of the number of positive tests divided by the total number of tests run on a given day. It is one of the important metrics used to track the progress of this pandemic. The lower the rate, the better. The test is based on active COVID infection, not serology testing. In early April, our positivity rate was over 22%. A good benchmark is to stay under 5%, and we have been well below that for quite a while as the chart below shows.
Other important factors to track are the hospitalization rate and capacity, how many ICU beds available, and how many ventilators in use. As an example, in our DuPage County hospitals, as of yesterday, we had 199 of its 520 ICU beds available, and 368 out of 571 ventilators available.
CLOSING IN ON COVID-19 ??:Even though the charts below might suggest that this mysterious virus has been “tamed” in Illinois, let us not be complacent. Of late, spikes have been significant in several other states in our country. Yes, the pandemic has been controlled in Illinois, but the virus has certainly NOT gone away. We need to continue wearing masks when going out, socially distance, and wash hands frequently.
We can only think of four ways this pandemic will “disappear”:1. Development of a vaccine.2. Development of a “killer” anti-viral drug.3. The virus mutates into its weaker version and goes away.4. Development of herd immunity.
The first option appears unlikely till 2021. The second and third options are wishful thinking! The fourth option will be a subject of our future discussion but for now suffice it to say that it takes 60-70% of the population of our country to get exposed to the virus before we can say herd immunity has occurred. There are a few other caveats we will discuss later.
Until then, be safe, be prayerful, and be vigilant. Enjoy life again, but please stay on top of the “numbers”, and follow those guidelines. Masks, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing is our new way of life.
COVID-19 UPDATE #14 Thursday, June 18, 2020 8:00PM
Today, DuPage County confirmed that we have 41 new Covid-19 cases compared to 37 new cases yesterday. DuPage had one death from Covid-19 during the last 24 hours. As of midnight, our DuPage hospitals have 212 of its 520 ICU beds available, and 345 out of 565 ventilators are available. The positivity rate continues to drop, and that’s great news.
It is encouraging to see the numbers across the state remain low. Across Illinois, 2.3% positive rate is noted, and for our Northeast region, a 3.2% positive rate. Deaths are down 18% comparing the past 7 days to the prior 7 days.
As of today, Oak Brook has had 107 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Out of these cases, 95 are from the one long term health facility we have, including 21 deaths. As I understand, this is one of the only long term facility in the area that takes Covid-positive patients.
EXCITEMENT IS IN THE AIR:At the Oakbrook Center, nearly 75% of stores and restaurants are open in some capacity. Several are doing curbside only, but planning to open next week. Some stores are now pushing toward 50% capacity, while others are closer to 25%. By next weekend, we are hoping to get into phase 4. Our restaurants have already begun to ramp up, rehiring staff so that they can be ready for indoor service. We have more and more retailers opening each day. Beatrix opened today, with a crowd at their door. Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, and Apple will all open next week. Mall has been busy every day, with lines outside several stores. It is nice to see people out there enjoying, shopping, wining, and dining again!
The AMC theaters will be opening on July 11 at 25% capacity. We are simply excited to be able to see movies in a theater again.
The Hyatt Lodge will open starting Friday, July 10. They are hoping to develop an outside deck dining option as well.
Please find below the percent positive chart for our state, which has been very low last several days. As you can see in the second chart, the percent positive for DuPage County this week is 2.5%, the lowest among all our counties. All great news!
My plea to each one of you is to support Oak Brook’s economy by supporting our stores, restaurants, hotels, and theaters every which way you can. In so doing, we will keep Oak Brook strong. But, kindly note that the virus is still around and will never quite go away. Vigilance is the key word to keep the pandemic in check. Hence, please continue wearing masks when outside, maintaining safe distancing, and following all hygienic measures including frequent hand washing.
COVID-19 UPDATE #13 Saturday, June 13, 2020 7:00PM
Since yesterday, there have been 42 new cases of Covid-19 in DuPage County, including 2 deaths. The day before there were 42 new cases, including 5 deaths.
Our DuPage hospitals have 192 of its 520 ICU beds available, and 349 out of 568 ventilators are available.
As of today, Oak Brook has had a total of 107 cases, out of which 95 cases are from Oakbrook Care (our long term health facility) including 21 deaths.
Happy to report to you that state-wide there has been a statistically significant decrease in the percent positive rate, 3.1 % today and 2.4% yesterday. For the Northeast region 3.5% today and 2.9% yesterday. For DuPage County, percent positive rate is 2.6% today, and 2.9% yesterday. These metrics represent stellar trends for DuPage County (and Illinois) despite some other states nationally showing spikes. DuPage County is on track for moving from phase III to phase IV of the Governor’s Plan right NOW.
Of late, the number of covid-19 cases has continued to decline, as has the acuity of illness, the number of cases in ICU and on ventilators. The need for healthcare resources and the percent positivity rate have all rapidly declined as shown in the chart below. Today, DuPage County is ripe to reopen its economy and its businesses even further. Hoping that the Governor will find it in his heart to compromise and safely allow both indoor and outdoor dining (of course, with restrictions) before the upcoming Father’s Day weekend. It’s about time.
CIVIL UNREST UPDATE: #5 Thursday, June 4, 2020 8:00am from Village President Dr. Gopal Lalmalani
The Mall reopens today from 11 AM to 6 PM. To enter, please use 22nd Street West entrance.
Kindly support our stores and restaurants, as we again try to reopen our economy and our businesses. Please remember that the coronavirus has not gone away, and it’s strongly recommended that we continue to wear face masks, maintain social distancing, wash our hands frequently, and practice other hygienic measures.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay vigilant.
CIVIL UNREST UPDATE: #4 Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:00pm from Village President Dr. Gopal Lalmalani
It was an uneventful day in Oak Brook today. Several towns around us are in the midst of protests today, so far peaceful except for Aurora which has had some rough spots and tensions are running high there. Please keep Aurora in your thoughts and prayers. The Hinsdale protest which was “postponed” last night did actually take place earlier today, which the best I can tell went peacefully.
Depending on how the evening goes, decision will be made if the Mall will reopen tomorrow. Kindly follow our Village’s website for further updates on this.
CIVIL UNREST UPDATE: #3 June 2, 2020 10:00pm
Things are relatively calm within Oak Brook and at the closed mall today. Several other communities had protests yesterday including at Naperville, where it turned ugly last night near the end. Other protests are planned for today in surrounding suburban communities. Hope and pray the protests stay focused and peaceful. It is time that we come together and work together to address and de-escalate the issues that have been raised by the protesters.
Happy to report to you that I’ve just have been informed the BLM peaceful protest planned for Hinsdale tomorrow has been postponed. Bolingbrook and Elmhurst are having their protests today. Other towns will have them in the next few days. Downers Grove is supposed to have one today, but then I also heard that it may be getting postponed until Sunday.
Oak Brook remains on high alert. We are fully prepared for what we hope does not happen. We are also partnering with Elmhurst, Villa Park, and Lombard to seek assistance from our Governor in deployment of the National Guard troops to assist in maintenance of law and order. During these troubled and dicey times, all necessary resources to protect our communities will be appreciated.
Our residents have been absolutely amazing with their offer of help and advice as well as their appreciation of the great work our Police and other safety personnel are doing. On Thursday, I intend to have a meeting with all our Homeowner Association Presidents to give them further updates, and seek their guidance and counsel. They are the “pulse” of our community and have been most helpful to the Village at all times. Our Police Chief Kruger will be in attendance to answer public safety questions they certainly will have.
These are unprecedented and difficult times. I would kindly request that our residents stay home if at all possible. The Mall will remain closed tomorrow, and could possibly open Thursday if circumstances permit. As a physician, I’m certainly real worried about a spike in Covid-19 cases in the next few weeks since many (if not all) of the protestors have not been following safe distancing guidelines, and some of them have not been wearing their face masks.
Stay safe, stay strong, stay prayerful, and stay home at least for the next few days. Kindly call 911 if you see suspicious or criminal activity, and attempt to record a video or take pictures if you can safely do so.
CIVIL UNREST UPDATE: #2 June 1, 2020 10:00pm
Just returned from our command center at the Oakbrook Center where I had the opportunity to meet our DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick who has been in our area off and on since yesterday, and staying on top of things. Our Police personnel are in good spirits, working hard to keep us safe, and keep our properties safe. There is NO curfew in Oak Brook as some of you may have incorrectly heard. During these unprecedented times, a lot of misinformation is in the air, and thought that I put things in perspective.
I can assure you that we have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our residents and our community. I am not at a liberty to get into details at this time. Suffice it to say, we have additional and robust resources at our disposal, and contingency plans are in place.
We appreciate the support of our residents and their concern as together we weather this storm. I would ask that our residents remain calm, feel safe in their homes, and look to formal channels of communication for accurate information. There is a lot of fake information out there; kindly ignore them and certainly don’t propagate them.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay prayerful. For the next day or two, stay home as much as feasible.
CIVIL UNREST UPDATE: May 31, 2020
A robo call is being sent out to our residents pretty soon which will give you more details. But, till you receive the call later today, just wanted to reassure our residents that there has been NO looting at the Oakbrook Center. There are NO protestors or any criminal elements inside the mall. It is fully controlled by our law enforcement. We will be making arrests if disruptions occur and they will be charged with domestic terrorism per directions of our DuPage County Sate’s Attorney Robert Berlin. Thanks are also due to our Sheriff James Mendrick who was at the scene in the Mall, along with Police Chief Kruger and Village Manager Ginex.
Like at all other communities in our area, there is a always risk of looting at our malls. All businesses have been closed today. All residents are advised to stay home tonight. Our public safety personnel are taking every precaution possible. Times are unpredictable and dicey last few days, and as residents, I would suggest we take all standard precautions.
May 29, 2020 COVID-19 Update # 12
Since yesterday, there are 110 new cases of Covid-19 in DuPage County including 5 deaths, 2 of them in elderly patients in their 90s.
Since last week, the number of Covid-19 cases in Oak Brook went up by 1, totaling 97 cases as of earlier today. Out of these 97 cases, 86 are from the one long term care facility we have, including 16 deaths.
Excitement is in the air as the state of Illinois (except for Chicago) will see retail shops, restaurants and bars, hair salons, and other businesses resume operations tomorrow, with some restrictions. Oak Brook enters phase 3 in a few hours, and looks forward to a speedy move to phase 4, hopefully in a few weeks though Governor Pritzker has not yet given an indication when this will actually happen so that gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor dining and drinking could then be allowed.
Kindly do support our restaurants. The Village has worked closely with the restaurants and bars to facilitate their ability to provide outdoor seating along with carry out or curbside pickup, and delivery service.
The following restaurants open from tomorrow for outdoor seating (in addition to curbside pick up and delivery):
Blueberry Hill Breakfast CafeCalifornia Puzza KitchenEggHarbor CafeGibson’s Bar & SteakhouseJ AlexanderJason’s DeliKona GrillLa BarraLabriolaMaggiano’sMichael Jordan (Friday to Sunday)Mom Ami GabiPanera BreadPerry’s Steakhouse & GrilleSeason’s 52Skippy’sThe ClubhouseThe Table at the CrateTrue Food KitchenWildfireYork Tavern
Antico Posto, as I understand, will offer outdoor seating from Saturday.Corner Bakery, Potbelly, Beatrix, Pinstripes, McCormick & Schmick’s, Red Robin, and Roti Modern Mediterranean are temporarily closed.
HOW ABOUT POOLS?Public pools, including park district pools are not recommended to open at this time as they are not part of Phase 3 reopening guidance. Unlikely that they will open in 2020 at all. Even though there is no evidence of virus spread in pool water, precautions such as safe distancing and wearing of face masks when not in the water is advised. At this time, delays with IDPH permit approvals make it highly unlikely that pools in Oak Brook will open this year. So sad!
THOUGHTS MOVING FORWARD:The Covid-19 virus is not going anywhere. It will stay with us for at least few years, and we will simply have to learn to coexist with covid. This invisible enemy can be deadly when it strikes, particularly those who are elderly with underlying conditions. We simply cannot take it lightly. But, life also needs to move on, and our economy as well as our businesses need to reopen in a thoughtful and phased manner. Until we find a specific and effective antiviral treatment, or a vaccine, we will need to continue safety guidelines including safe distancing, face masking, and frequent hand washing. An effective vaccine is unlikely to be available till next year, if at all. Until then, follow the doctor’s recommendations and stay safe, stay strong, stay hopeful, and stay prayerful.
May 24, 2020 COVID-19 Update # 11
Today, there have been 159 new cases of Covid-19 in DuPage County, compared to 177 new cases yesterday, and 260 new cases the day before. We have had 1 death each day in DuPage County for the last 3 days. We now have a total of 7,063 confirmed cases in DuPage including 338 death.
The DuPage hospitals now have 102 of its 482 ICU beds available, and 250 of its 536 ventilators available.
On May 1, the positivity rate in DuPage was 17.4%, and on May 15, it had dropped to 11.7%. On May 17, the positivity rate went down further to 9%. Yesterday, the positivity rate in Northeast Region (which includes Chicago and Cook County) was 13%, down from 15% four days ago. For the tenth consecutive day, the Northeast Region is within all the metrics needed to advance from phase 2 to phase 3.
As of few hours ago, Oak Brook has had a total of 96 cases, out of which 86 cases are from the one long term facility we have, including 16 deaths.
Oak Brook (and the rest of DuPage County) is poised to reopen its restaurants and bars in phases (initially outdoors) on Friday, May 29. Few hours ago, the Governor’s office rolled out guidelines as to how to serve diners outdoors, how manufacturers and some offices can resume operations, and how hair and nail salons, barbershops and spas will be able to offer services with physical distancing and face coverings over the nose and face, all starting on May 29.
Yesterday, on a perfect morning, a spectacular parade brought excitement and smiles on the faces of our graduating students, their parents, and the neighbors who came out to help celebrate. It was nice to see our Police and Fire departments in attendance in their full glory. In the midst of the gloom and doom of this coronavirus pandemic, our residents needed to see this hugely successful event, an uplifting experience. Many thanks to our star residents Ms. Angelique Lopez and Ms. Aarti Tekchandani Karamchandani for their leadership. A few pictures below.
The Covid-19 virus is here to stay and will continue to spread, more so among the elderly and the vulnerable including those with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and lung conditions. Yes, the pandemic curve has flattened but until we find a specific viral treatment or a vaccine against the virus, we will need to strictly follow safety guidelines including safe distancing, wearing face masks, frequent hand washing and other hygienic measures. Until then, stay safe, stay hopeful, stay strong, and stay prayerful.
May 20, 2020 COVID-19 Update # 10
For 7 days in a row, our region is within all the metrics required to be in phase 3 of our Governor’s plan. Today, our positivity rate dropped once again. The daily positivity rate today was 15% in our Northeast region. We are seeing a decrease in the numbers of people hospitalized, the numbers of people in the ICU, and the numbers of people on the ventilators.
Till today, Oak Brook has had a total of 92 Covid-19 cases. 78 of these cases are from the one long term facility we have, including 13 deaths.
The best news today from Springfield is that our Governor announced that restaurants and bars will be able to open end of this month with outside seating in patios. Most of our restaurants in Oak Brook will create or expand their patios or get tents depending on parameters outlined by Governor’s office. Sidewalk cafes will be expanded in some towns, and some streets will need be closed to facilitate outdoor dining.
Also, earlier today the Governor and the Illinois Department of Public Heath rescinded the Emergency rule that would have resulted in Class A misdemeanor charges for businesses that would open in violation of the Governor’s Executive Order. This emergency rule was just enacted by the Governor last Friday evening, but was quickly opposed by small businesses, by Mayors, and by most legislators from both sides of the aisle. It was a clear case of legal overreach.
All state parks will reopen on May 29. People will be able to go outside for a walk or a picnic, provided the group is not larger than 10, with appropriate safe distancing and face masking. Indoor and outdoor tennis facilities will reopen. For golfers, the courses can now allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Boating and camping with up to 10 people will be permitted. Nail salons, spas, beauty and barber shops can open with safety precautions. All retail stores can open their doors to in-person shopping with safety precautions and capacity limits in place. Gyms can reopen for outdoor and 1:1 instruction. Our residents are finally seeing a glimmer of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
The issue of swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, has yet to be addressed. Question still remains whether it is safe to be around water. According to CDC, there is no evidence thus far that coronavirus can be spread through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. CDC states that proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) should inactivate the virus in the water.
Finally, in the midst of the doom and gloom of this pandemic, Ms. Aarti Tekchandani Karamchandani and Ms. Angelique Lopez have graciously taken the lead in organizing a Parade in honor of the Class of 2020, slated for this Saturday, May 23 at 10 AM. The Village of Oak Brook is pleased to support this special event with both our Police and Fire departments participating in its full glory. This celebration will certainly bring some excitement and some smile on the faces of Oak Brook’s graduating 8th graders and high school seniors. For details, kindly contact the organizers or visit our website. It goes without saying that safe distancing and wearing of face masks is expected during this celebration.
I believe optimism is in the air as we return to near normalcy in the next coming weeks and months. Of course, development of specific anti-viral treatment and vaccine for prevention of Covid-19 infection is at least 6-12 months away. Till then, stay positive, stay hopeful, stay prayerful, and stay safe.
May 15, 2020 COVID-19 Update # 9
Our region, the Northeast Region of the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan, is within all the metrics in Phase 3 with positivity rate today of 17%. We need to stay under 20%. A decreasing score is desirable. Each metric has to average these numbers for 14 days.
Today, Illinois had 2,432 new cases, compared to 3,239 new cases yesterday. Illinois had 130 deaths today, compared to 138 deaths yesterday. The death total in Illinois is 4,058.
Today, Covid-19 cases in DuPage County have increased by 165 cases, compared to 223 cases yesterday. Today, we had 7 deaths. We now have a total of 5,622 cases in DuPage County, and total of 278 deaths.
How many of the increase in cases are from the increase in testing is any one’s guess. You won’t get that information or transparency from the health care experts who parade on TV every afternoon. My hunch is ~ 75% is from testing of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic people, while ~ 25% are from those who are moderately ill or in the hospital.
As of few hours ago, Oak Brook has 85 cases, out of which 78 cases are from the one long term facility we have, including 13 deaths.
In our DuPage hospitals, today we had 93 ICU beds available compared to yesterday’s 110 ICU beds available, out of total of 475 ICU beds. Today, 254 ventilators were available compared to 214 ventilators available yesterday.
Happy to report that the critical or serious Covid-19 cases which are the type that cause hospital overcrowding and the use of ICU beds and ventilators, are on the decline both globally and in the USA. 98.5% of the Covid-19 cases are generally mild.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
1. We need to insist that Governor Pritzker decouples DuPage County from City of Chicago and Cook County. Oak Brook (and the rest of DuPage County) is ready to re-open NOW, in phases, with appropriate safe distancing, face masking, and other hygienic measures. We see no reason for DuPage County to wait for Cook County to meet the metrics outlined in the Governor’s Plan. Cook County has density and other characteristics including population of over 5.1 million that could make it longer to meet the safety metrics.
2. Small businesses are 99.6% of all businesses in Illinois. They have either gone out of business or are on life support at this time. They certainly will not survive the time it will take to reopen the State under the Governor’s current plan.
3. DuPage County has ample General Medical hospital beds and ICU beds, and more than sufficient ventilators. These capacities have been steadily growing as evidenced from several updates I’ve written over the last few weeks. The hospital capacity parameters when coupled with the fact that our positivity rates are so much lower than 20% puts DuPage County in a transition to phase 4 of the Governor’s Plan, and NOW we should be able to quickly reopen.
4. Based on logic, common sense, and scientistic data, the Governor needs to reconfigure the Region 8 of his Plan NOW, so that DuPage County can reopen soon and safely, in a thoughtful and measured manner. Cook County and the City of Chicago are large enough to form its own “region”. Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot said last week that Chicago is materially different from the rest of the state, and requires “stricter reopening standards, based upon data that’s different here than in other parts of the state”, which is another way of her saying that she agrees with us that Oak Brook (and DuPage County) have different reopening standards than the City of Chicago.
I rest my case.
Thank you for your kind attention. As always, stay safe, stay strong, stay hopeful, and stay prayerful.
May 12, 2020 COVID-19 UPDATE # 8
Illinois today had 4,014 new cases, compared to 1,266 new cases yesterday, 1,706 new cases Sunday, and 2,225 new cases Saturday. Illinois also had additional 144 deaths today compared to 54 deaths yesterday, 57 deaths Sunday, and 108 deaths Saturday.
Oak Brook now has 77 confirmed cases as of few hours ago, 61 of them are from the one long term facility we have, including 10 deaths.
The Northeastern Region of Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan includes DuPage County. According to the plan, the entire region needs a 20% positivity rate over a 14-day period. I am happy to report to you that DuPage County has tested below this rate consistently. However, for the entire Northeastern region including Chicago and Cook County, the positivity rate is 21.4%.
The hospitals in DuPage today had 110 of its 472 beds available, compared to 98 yesterday. 242 ventilators are available today, compared to 244 of 397 ventilators yesterday.
Today, at our Village Board meeting, we uninamously passed a resolution urging Governor Pritzker to reconsider the health “regions” and to decouple Oak Brook and the rest of DuPage County from Chicago and Cook County. Chicago Mayor Lightfoot herself recognizes that Chicago is materially different from the rest of the state of Illinois and requires “stricter” reopening standards. The Village of Oak Brook requests our General Assembly to convene soon and provide the Governor with a measure of legislative guidance to balance his assertion of “executive supremacy” to treat Oak Brook and DuPage County as an extension of Chicago for health planning and recovery reasons.
The article in the Tribune last week shown below summarizes my thoughts about the Governor’s 5-phase plan as too slow, too rigid, and doomed to fail. Oak Brook and the rest of DuPage County are ripe to reopen NOW in phases, with restrictions include safe distancing, wearing a mask, and other hygienic measures. All businesses are essential. Livelihoods are essential. Of course, safety is paramount, and we should never compromise on that. The Governor should allow counties that have fulfilled the safety metrics to reopen, before its too late. Hope our Governor would listen to the pleas made by the DuPage Mayors and our businesses, and at least give them a fair hearing.
As always, stay safe, stay hopeful, stay strong, and stay prayerful.
May 9, 2020 -- COVID-19 UPDATE
Today in Illinois there has been 2,225 new cases compared to 2,887 new cases yesterday. Illinois also had additional 108 deaths today compared to 130 deaths yesterday. The death total in Illinois is now 3,349 out of total positive cases of 76,085.
Today in DuPage there has been 142 new cases compared to 123 cases yesterday. In addition, 10 deaths were reported today. We now have a total of 4,520 cases in DuPage with a total of 247 deaths. 84% of the cases in DuPage are associated with long term care facilities.
Oak Brook as of today has had a total of 66 cases. 61 of the cases are from the one long term care facility we have In Oak Brook, including 10 deaths.
On the brighter side, In the Northeastern region (including DuPage), hospital daily admissions did decrease from May 1st to May 6th from 307 to 280. It should be noted that 18% of hospital beds, 19% of ICU beds, and 64% of ventilators are available.
We have been most disappointed with the Governor’s 5-phase plan which I believe is ill-conceived, too slow, and doomed to fail. Also, lumping in DuPage County with Chicago and Cook County is not quite fair. Chicago is big enough to have its own region, and its Mayor yesterday came up with its own reopening plan. Neither our Governor nor Chicago’s Mayor consulted or sought input from our legislative leaders or our DuPage Mayors before coming up with their respective reopening plans. The DuPage Mayors sent a letter out last week to the Governor requesting for a meeting; we have had no response as yet. The Executive Board of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference will next meet on Monday to discuss our own plan to reopen DuPage County in a measured and thoughtful manner, and in phases, keeping the safety metrics front and center.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Wishing all the mothers out there a joyful and a blessed day, in spite of the trials and tribulations we have all endured the last few months.
Till we chat again next week, stay safe, stay strong, stay hopeful, and stay prayerful.
May 6, 2020 -- COVID-19 UPDATE
Today, Illinois had 2,270 new cases compared to 2, 122 cases yesterday. Today, Illinois had an additional 138 deaths compared to yesterday’s 176 deaths. Total deaths in Illinois is now 2, 974. Total cases confirmed in Illinois is now 68, 232.
What I’m not able to determine from the data presented is how many of these cases are asymptomatic people who went for testing and turned out positive, how many of them are mildly symptomatic and are self-isolating at home, and how many cases are severely symptomatic resulting in hospitalization. My most educated guess as I closely look at the DuPage County data is that ~ 25% of the cases are in the hospital, and the rest ~ 75% are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. With increasing availability of testing, my hunch is that a larger number of the new cases reported will be from the asymptomatic group. As we lump these increasing number of asymptomatic positives in the “new cases”, we may never reach our peak or see the descending limb of the pandemic curve.
Total cases in DuPage County residents as of this afternoon is 4, 082, including 217 deaths. Since yesterday, there are 160 new cases of Covid-19 in DuPage County including 11 deaths reported.
Number of cases in Oak Brook is now up to 55 as of this afternoon, from 43 a week ago. 29 of these cases are from the one long term facility we have, including 5 deaths. Most of these cases are elderly residents with underlying other medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, heart and lung diseases.
Our Governor’s 5-phased plan to reopen the state’s economy unveiled yesterday is ill-conceived, too slow, and will not work. It looks like he is not willing to advance the reopening timetable. Our businesses are hurting badly, and if he drags this out into the summer, many of our businesses may be shut down completely by then. Livelihoods are at stake here. It is an economic survival issue. As a business man before he became our Governor, he surely should understand what our businesses are going through.
The Governor’s plan has grouped our districts into 4 regions. DuPage County has been lumped in with Cook County and Chicago which is not appropriate since we have different population densities with no scientific data to support grouping DuPage County or other collar communities with Chicago. The Cook County and Chicago numbers are going to hurt DuPage’s chances of opening our businesses and economy sooner. As far as the DuPage Mayors can tell, based on several hospital trends and other parameters, we are ripe for reopening in a thoughtful and staged manner NOW, and have requested the Governor’s consideration.
According to Governor’s plan, we are currently in phase 2. I believe we may not get to phase 3 till July or later when barbershops, salons, offices and manufacturing can reopen to the public with safety precautions, face masks, and social distancing. The Governor’s plan will probably not allow restaurants and bars to open up till August or later, when we hopefully will reach phase 4. Phase 5 will likely not be realized till next year when festivals, conventions, and large events will be allowed once vaccine or effective treatment becomes available or new cases are eliminated over a sustained period through herd immunity. Face masks and social distancing will be the norm throughout this entire period.
In spite of the fact that Illinois has a veto-proof Democratic majority in both its houses, it is time that our legislators from both sides of the aisle chime in on the serious happenings in Illinois. The Executive Powers of the Governor is one thing, but it’s time that the Mayors as well as our concerned residents have a dialogue with our legislators so as to bring accountability and sanity back. This can only happen if the Legislature is called back into session ASAP.
The coronavirus is here to stay. We all need to help mitigate this viral pandemic by staying home as much as feasible particularly those with underlying conditions, practicing social distancing, wearing face masks when in public space as well as washing hands and other hygienic measures. Public health is paramount. From a medical standpoint, more effective treatment and vaccine should hopefully be available in the next year or so. In the interim, we need to slowly open up our businesses in phases, while closely monitoring safety metrics. Our small businesses cannot withstand any further extension of this lockdown, and what baffles me the most is that larger outlets like Target, Walmart, and others are allowed to open under the lockdown, but smaller businesses cannot. Go figure!
Stay safe, stay hopeful, stay strong, and stay prayerful. This, too, shall pass.
May 2, 2020 -- COVID-19 UPDATE
Till today, total Covid-19 cases in DuPage County is 3, 439 including 189 deaths. Of the 189 deaths, 137 of them are related to elderly patients from long term care facilities with other underlying conditions. Today, there are 194 new cases including 15 deaths reported. Yesterday, 152 new cases were reported, and 10 deaths. The day before we had 195 new cases. The information that I am not able to get is how many of the new cases are related to asymptomatic people who simply went for testing for no specific reason but their fear or anxiety over this viral pandemic, how many of them have mild disease and self-isolating at home, and how many have more critical illness and are admitted to the hospitals. My hunch is that increasing number of the new cases are due to more testing being done in the asymptomatic group. But, we need more detailed and transparent data to confirm this.
Hospitalization rates are stable statewide with 1263 ICU beds in use yesterday, and 1293 the day before. There are a total of 3, 667 ICU beds statewide. Of those, 777 were on ventilators yesterday, and 785 the day before, leaving2, 894 ventilators available for use.
In our DuPage hospitals, more ICU beds are available. Yesterday, 88 of 508 ICU beds were available, compared to 65 beds available the day before. 212 of 313 ventilators were available yesterday compared 207 out of 311 the day before. The good news is that we don’t have swamped hospitals overrun with covid patients in DuPage County. The bad news is that hospital officials have indicated that their revenue is down 50% over the past two months so that they are forced to impose pay cuts (and furloughs) to their employees and their employed physicians. There maybe layoffs in the offing if the trend continues. The occupancy in DuPage County hospitals is down to 60-70%. There is a perception out there that most of the patients at the hospitals are covid-19 patients, but in actuality it is much less. At Edward and Elmhurst hospitals, ~ 24% are Covid-positive patients. However, non-covid patients are staying away from hospitals including for outpatient testing.
Our new behaviors including physical distancing, wearing of face masks, and hygienic measures including frequent hand washing, are helping slow the spread of the virus and flattening the pandemic curve. DuPage County has been doing better than our neighboring counties in many ways including case and death rates. Illinois has 118 cases per 100K population, while DuPage has 102 cases per 100K population. The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference under the able leadership of Mayor Steve Chirico of Naperville has been working hard to establish a dialogue with our Governor J.B. Pritzker so as to thoughtfully and in phases open up our businesses and our economy. DuPage County, with careful planning and some limits, is well positioned to open sooner rather than later. Public safety and health is paramount, but based on available information, we should aim to open up by mid-May.
Stay safe, stay prayerful, stay strong, and stay hopeful.
April 29, 2020 -- Covid-19 Update
Today, coronavirus cases in USA topped a million cases. Till today, Illinois has had > 2,125 deaths. The single worst day for deaths was today, 144 died in Illinois last 24 hours.
Today, in DuPage, Covid-19 cases increased by 114 cases, compared to 178 cases yesterday, and compared to 124 cases the day before. We now have a total of 2,739 cases in DuPage and 138 deaths. 72.4 % of DuPage deaths have been nursing home residents.
Till today, Oak Brook has a total of 43 cases, and at least 23 of them are from the one nursing home in Oak Brook.
Today, DuPage County approved an ordinance to waive late fees for property tax payers who are experiencing hardship due to Covid-19. This ordinance allows taxpayers who are unable to pay their first property tax assessment on time and requests them to pay it in September without assessment of late fees. Criteria for hardship include: termination of employment or lay-off, and reduction in household income of > 20%. For landlords, reduction in rent collected (80% or more), and for non-essential businesses who have shut down and who do not qualify for PPP program.
Yesterday, a downstate judge threw a legal bombshell and overturned Governor Pritzker’s new stay-at-home order that extends the lockdown to the end of May. The filing apparently claims that the law grants the Governor emergency powers for only 30 days. This could open the door to legal challenges from other individuals and groups. Stay tuned.
The DuPage Mayors are in active conversation to reopen our economy and our businesses in the next week or two, using strict guidelines, and at least in phases. We have requested a meeting with the Governor to address these urgent issues. I believe some counties like DuPage may have flattened the curve more than the other counties, and are now ripe for reopening. It baffles me that large outlet stores like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, etc, have been open all through this pandemic, while smaller and boutique type of stores in Oak Brook are not able to do so. Additionally restaurants, bars, hotel banquet rooms, hair and nail salons, etc, could be allowed to open sooner as long as social distancing guidelines and use of face masks is incorporated as a pre-requisite.
Enough is enough. Let us get things moving again before the financial meltdown becomes more irreversible. Of course, public health and safety is paramount, and should never ever be compromised.
Finally, for the avid golfers out there, the golf courses will reopen this Friday, May 1. However, strict guidelines such as safe physical distancing, and other restrictions will apply.
Stay safe, stay strong, stay hopeful, and stay prayerful. This, too, shall pass. I seek your valued input as together we navigate this crippling pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen during our lifetime.
April 25, 2020 -- Latest COVID-19 News as of an hour or two ago. GOLFERS must read!
1. Today, it was announced that in Illinois there are 2,119 new cases and 80 deaths during the last 24 hours, as compared to 2,724 cases and 108 deaths yesterday. Hope and pray that this downward trend continues.
2. Today, DuPage County confirmed Covid-19 cases have increased by 124 cases compared to increase of 151 cases yesterday. In addition, today we had 2 deaths as compared to 7 deaths yesterday. One of the deaths was a female resident of the Oak Brook long term facility in her 90s with other health issues. Very encouraging statistic.
3. 73.2% of DuPage deaths have been from our nursing homes.
4. DuPage County is doing very well compared to other counties based on a per capita basis.
5. Hospitalizations, utilization of ICU beds and ventilators in Illinois are all remaining flat, and are NOT threatening hospital capacity. As a frontline physician taking cardiac care of the sick Covid-19 patients on a daily basis, I’m seeing lesser acuity of their illnesses and lesser number of cases as compared to several weeks ago.
6. A downstate municipality is contemplating allowing businesses to reopen in defiance of Governor’s order.
7. A lawsuit was filed downstate challenging Governor’s right to extend the order past the 30 days allowed by statute.
8. Lastly, for the golfers out there, there is GREAT news. Few hours ago the Governor’s office at the insistence of many suburban municipalities shall be permitting golf as a recreational activity beginning 6:00 AM, May 1st. Social distancing, no hand shaking, and several other precautions as well as operational restrictions will apply.
The DuPage mayors (including yours truly) are continuing to work collectively and collaboratively to open our businesses and our economy, at least in phases, sooner rather than later.
As always, stay safe, stay strong, stay careful, and stay prayerful. This, too, shall pass.
PS Kindly don’t forget to wear your masks when stepping out into public places, and wash your hands frequently. Better safe than sorry!
April 23, 2020 -- COVID-19 UPDATE:
Today, Illinois reports 1,826 new cases bringing the total positive cases to 36,934 in 96 counties of our state. There have been additional 123 deaths today bringing Illinois’ death toll to 1,688 lives.
Today, 4,877 persons are hospitalized with the virus in Illinois, occupying 1,268 ICU beds and utilizing 766 ventilators.
Till today, DuPage County has had a total of 2,075 cases, and a total of 128 deaths. 71% of DuPage deaths have been nursing home deaths. In Oak Brook, we have had 37 confirmed cases at this point, out of which 12 reside in the one nursing home we have. Due to privacy laws, no additional information can be shared about those afflicted with the virus in our community.
I am happy to report that most people who contract the virus will recover quickly and completely. 60% of the people will recover in 2 weeks, and 77% will recover in 4 weeks. The percentage of cases that are serious or critical now are less than 2%. These are encouraging statistics but we need to continue to do our part. Those with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart and lung diseases as well as older age groups have more difficulty in the recovery process.
As many of you know, our Governor today extended Illinois’ stay at home order through the end of May. Beginning May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face covering or a mask in public indoor spaces such as stores as well as in public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. While it is possible that Illinois may not have reached its peak of this viral illness, some of our counties like DuPage County may have flattened the curve more than the other counties in our state. I am working hard to collect meaningful data so as to formulate my own conclusions in advocacy of our community. With all due respect, the Governor needs to be more up front with his assumptions and data, and further explain the modeling used, and the conclusions he may have reached. As the saying goes: “In God we trust, all others must bring data”.
Where do we go from here?
Once the public health hazard has stabilized and abates, we need to quickly re-open our society, including our businesses, as long as we abide by social distancing guidelines, personal protection including face masks, and best practices for disinfection including frequent hand washing, etc. Our restaurants and bars should open sooner rather than later, for on-site service with appropriate limits on occupancy and seating, keeping physical distancing guidelines in mind. Beauty salons, barbers, and cosmetologists could be allowed to open by appointment only. Likewise, automobile dealers could transact business by appointment. Golf courses and state parks should be allowed to re-open. Hotels and banquet facilities should be available again for meetings, wedding receptions, etc. Places of worship should be encouraged to open as well, keeping in mind that our “new normal” will need to include distancing guidelines, face-masks, and hygienic measures that we have recently become accustomed to. Hospitals and surgi-centers will hopefully soon be able to do elective surgeries if they follow certain criteria.
Rough times are ahead for each one of us both in terms of public health, as well as the economic recovery that needs to follow rather soon. Of course, we need to keep our faith. This, too, shall pass. But, the time has come to reopen Illinois, at least in phases, and some counties that have either already peaked and are at lower risk could do so sooner than the rest.
April 22, 2020 -- Update
Making a plea to all of you that we ought to wear a face mask/covering when out in a public place. All residents, visitors, and store workers are strongly urged to do so. This face mask requirement does not apply to people who are out alone either jogging or walking for exercise, or driving alone in their cars, or are in their backyards with members of their family. Those who do not medically tolerate a face-covering will be exempt as well.
In addition to safe distancing and frequent hand washing as well as other hygienic measures, wearing a mask is yet another tool that will help tide the community spread of the coronavirus during this global pandemic. This temporary and reasonable request is our attempt to meet a fine balance between one’s civil liberties and public health. This executive order is NOT punitive in any form; there will be no citations, fines, tickets, or arrests.