In a midday conference call Wednesday, March 18, the mayors of Oak Park and Forest Park, the village president of River Forest described their shared efforts to combat the coronavirus across the villages.
“We speak with one voice about this crisis. We are at war with an enemy we can’t see,” said Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb of Oak Park. “These are very difficult times. We urge all residents to stay home unless there is some essential reason not to.”
Abu-Taleb, who heads a home rule municipality with its own public health department and therefore more expansive emergency powers, said Oak Park, “may take more serious measures in the next day or two including a shelter in place” order.
Elected and appointed leaders from all taxing bodies in Oak Park and River Forest convened early Wednesday via conference call to review the current conditions of response to the coronavirus. Cathy Adduci, River Forest village president, said the conference calls will continue every Wednesday and will include Forest Park representatives going forward.
Rory Hoskins, mayor of Forest Park, lauded the coordinated efforts among the three villages and the sharing of “best practices.”
Both Adduci and Hoskins said their villages lack the authority to impose a shelter in place order as they work under the Cook County Department of Health. However, Adduci said the three leaders were “amping up the urgency” of their calls for residents to quarantine themselves in their homes.
Even as Oak Park announced Wednesday the first positive test for the coronavirus among its residents, all three leaders decried the overall lack of testing available from the federal government. Hoskins said Forest Park will advocate for more testing and recommended that all village employees be tested as they have direct contact with citizens.
Adduci says River Forest will receive any test results of its residents from the county via Loyola University Medical Center.
Adduci touted the early success in River Forest in raising 100 volunteers willing to do outreach for local citizens. She said that working together she was confident the three villages could raise 300 volunteers. Abu-Taleb said Oak Park might need volunteers to deliver food to residents unable to get out safely to shop.
Hoskins said Forest Park is making a concerted effort to keep its food pantry in operation.
“At the end of the day we will rise to this,” said Abu-Taleb. “But there are tough times ahead. There will be suffering and pain.”