Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty announced this evening that the city now has five confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

At a special City Council meeting called to address the pandemic, aldermen unanimously approved an ordinance to give the mayor, as liquor commissioner, emergency powers that would let him authorize restaurants that don’t now have authorization to sell liquor for takeout or delivery to do so.

The Council also adopted a resolution that will let the city delay the due date for certain payments to the city by 60 days.

Those would include water bills, parking tickets and vehicle complaince citations. The measure also waives business registration fees for the rest of the year, postpones liquor and amusement tax collections for 60 days and stops water shutoffs and booting of motor vehicles for 60 days.

The aldermen also approved a measure to let the interim city manager continue to pay bills and payroll through May 8, selected Speer Financial Inc. as an advisor for bond sales and approved an annual report to the federal government on the city’s use of federal block grant funds. 

Northwestern University is now reporting five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on the Evanston campus — three from the Kellogg Global Hub, where the university’s first case was reported last Friday — and one each from the Registrar’s Office and the School of Education and Social Policy at Annenberg Hall.

Only the Registrar’s Office staff member has been identified as an Evanston resident.

Hagerty said, “We know that the number of cases in Evanston and Illinois is only a tiny fraction of our population, but we also know that if all of us don’t take the immediate, necessary steps to address this issue that these numbers can quickly increase exponentially. It’s occurring in other countries and will occur here unless we all take decisive action and strictly follow the guidelines of the CDC and IL Department of Public Health.”

The mayor urged residents to take the following actions:

  • If you are going to be in the presence of other people, practice social distancing. This means 6 feet apart.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Wash your hands frequently – at least for 20 seconds.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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