Most in-person services at Oak Park village hall, 123 Madison St., have been paused due to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases among village staff. Ten employees, all vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 14, according to a village news release issued the same day. The main lobby of village hall will be closed to the public until after New Year’s Day.
The announcement coincides with the first known case of the Omicron variant in suburban Cook County, which was reported to the Cook County Public Health Department (CCPH) Dec. 14. Delta variant cases also continue to rise, according to CCPH. Oak Park spokesman David Powers told Wednesday Journal the village of Oak Park does not know if any of the 10 staff cases are of the Omicron or Delta variants.
“Many of the people who work in village hall don’t necessarily live in Oak Park,” he said. “They may have been tested by another health department, another county.”
Regardless of which health department reported the case, Powers said those employed by the village of Oak Park are required to alert human resources upon testing positive for COVID-19. Those who test positive, as well as the individuals with whom they have been in close contact, are required to isolate for 14 days if they are unvaccinated. If they are vaccinated, they must isolate for 10 days. The vaccination rate of village employees exceeds 80 percent, according to Powers.
In the event of an employee contracting COVID-19, the human resources department sends out a memo to all village staff, said Powers, and then individually contacts those who may have been in close proximity with the infected individual. Out of consideration for privacy, human resources does not share any of the employee’s personal information in the case announcement memos.
Powers specified that there have been a total of 64 reported COVID-19 cases among Oak Park village staff since the onset of the pandemic. While the most recent batch of cases occurred in staff members vaccinated against the virus, Powers was unsure if those affected had received their booster doses.
The uptick in employee cases, as well as holiday vacation requests, has caused a shortage of staff at village hall, which Powers said also contributed to the temporary cessation of most in-person services. Roughly 80 people work at village hall.
“There are a lot of people taking time off and then, suddenly, you have 10 people who come back positive,” said Powers. “Then you have to do contact tracing.”
Village hall does not currently get the amount of in person traffic it did prior to the pandemic and safety protocols now prohibit the public from meeting with village officials in their offices. When someone visits village hall, one village employee, partitioned by plexiglass, provides immediate assistance. That employee then calls down the staff member best suited to handle the visitor’s needs.
Despite that precaution, the decision to close it to the public was made out of an “abundance of caution,” according to Powers. All village hall services are still available online. People can also schedule appointments for time-sensitive matters, such as property transfers.
The Oak Park Police Department, located in the basement of village hall, remains open to the public. The Oak Park public works building, 201 South Blvd., is also open to the public.