City of Evanston Responds to COVID-19
The City of Evanston has been working diligently and proactively to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Evanston.
Beginning in February 2020, the Evanston Health and Human Services Department – one of only four certified municipal health departments in Illinois – formed an internal response team to begin planning and preparation as the disease began to spread around the world. On March 15, Mayor Hagerty declared a Local State of Emergency to enhance the City’s response after two Evanston residents tested positive for COVID-19. Following the declaration, the City established an Incident Command System to organize its emergency response and activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to provide centralized coordination of information and resources with local, county, state, and federal agencies and private and nonprofit entities.
To facilitate an effective community-wide response effort, Mayor Hagerty also assembled a Coronavirus Task Force comprised of key members of the education, government, business, faith, nonprofit, health, and senior communities. The Task Force meets twice weekly to discuss community updates, share information, and identify community priorities. (View Task Force updates.)
The City of Evanston has followed a nationally recognized framework to organize its emergency response and recovery efforts. At the core of the City’s COVID-19 response is a Unified Command Team led by the mayor, city manager, Police and Fire Chiefs, and Health and Human Services and Public Works directors. Unified Command determines objectives for four sections: Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration.
Although the City’s operations and objectives continue to evolve, focus areas have included:
Disease Surveillance: The City’s Health and Human Services Department works with the Illinois Department of Public Health and local, state and federal health partners to help limit the spread of the virus. The City monitors all confirmed COVID-19 cases among Evanston residents while also conducting investigations of all those who were in direct contact with the confirmed cases.
Supplies/PPE: The City continues to gather and disburse Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other materials to ensure that first responders, City staff, and essential workers have the supplies they need to help fight COVID-19. (Donate PPE.)
Seniors and Vulnerable Populations: The City is actively working with long-term care facilities and congregate living facilities to ensure that recommended health and safety measures are implemented to avoid cluster scenarios. City social services staff also work with those who may be isolated or food insecure.
Food Insecurity: In response to Evanston schools closing, the City began offering free, cold breakfasts and lunches to youth ages 1to 18 while continuing to provide meals for seniors enrolled in the City’s Congregate Meal Program. Thousands of meals have been provided through the programs. In early April, the City assembled a list of community food resources and partnered with Northwestern University and Valli Produce to establish a weekly emergency food pantry at James Park.
Housing/Transportation: The City has worked with the Evanston Community Foundation, Connections for the Homeless, YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Curt's Cafe, and Interfaith Action of Evanston to fund, staff and coordinate temporary shelter for Evanston’s housing insecure neighbors. The City has provided more than 100 beds for homeless residents at local hotels, as well as installed portable toilets and hand washing stations throughout Evanston. Staff have also worked to provide temporary housing and transportation for those who must self-isolate and cannot do so at home.
Volunteering: The City launched a “COVID-19 Response” volunteer portal, which connects Evanston organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with volunteers willing to lend their assistance and expertise.
Additional City Response
The City’s Economic Development Department continues to work with local businesses to provide information on available local, state and federal resources, including small business loan and grant assistance programs. Communication efforts have included a business-focused Coronavirus Live Q&A, co-hosting a webinar with the Small Business Association, developing a list of resources and materials, and launching a “Keep Calm and Carry Out” campaign to encourage residents to support local businesses.
The City also waived nonpayment penalties for certain bills, eliminated 2020 business registration fees, and paused non-safety related parking enforcement.
The City has developed a dedicated COVID-19 webpage housing a wide range of information, including daily updates on the number of confirmed cases, virus-specific information, FAQs, and resources. The City continues to send frequent e-newsletters to the community with the latest information and resources and hosts weekly Coronavirus Q&A sessions.
As the City continues to work to “flatten the curve” and limit the spread of COVID-19 while connecting residents with important resources, residents are encouraged to do their part by following the CDC’s recommended measures and abiding by Gov. Pritzker’s Stay at Home Order. Together, we can help save lives.For additional information regarding the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit cityofevanston.org/covid-19 or call/text 847-448-4311. For convenience, residents may simply dial 3-1-1 in Evanston.