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GENOA – As DeKalb County area businesses are facing tightened mitigations placed on Illinois health Region 1, one mayor is calling for a more creative approach from the governor's office.
Genoa Mayor Mark Vicary wrote in a Friday letter to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker that no one in the city of about 5,200 residents wants to get sick but they don't want to see their small businesses fail. He wrote he wanted the governor to look at implementing more innovative solutions, like electrostatic spraying, as opposed to relying solely on data for opening and closure decision making.
"COVID[-19] is here to stay, at least for the immediate future," Vicary, who also is a human resources manager for United Airlines, wrote. "I firmly believe looking forward and managing the situation is a better alternative than the daily decision of who to close down next. It is time to innovate and utilize creative thinking in order to give our small businesses a fighting chance."
Vicary said Monday he sent the letter Friday and has since received a receipt of delivery. He said he hasn't heard back from the governor's office yet – but he hopes to.
“There has to be a better way of doing this,” Vicary said.
Vicary said small businesses who commit to a process like electrostatic spraying, which takes minutes and has been used to disinfect airplanes, could close for maybe an hour a certain number of times per day throughout the day to disinfect taverns or restaurants, for example.
“You can still bring in revenue,” Vicary said.
Vicary had said most of Genoa's, let alone the northern part of the county's, economy is mostly made up of small businesses – with a lot of big box stores being in the DeKalb and Sycamore areas – and grant funding could be available for businesses who wanted to invest in that kind of additional disinfecting equipment.
If those bigger box stores can stay open throughout the day, he asked, why can't small businesses?
Vicary said he wasn't sure if there was anyone closely tied to communities like Genoa's represented among the governor’s advisors for that decision making. He said he didn't think anybody was working on creative ways to address the issue and the current approach is like playing whack-a-mole with businesses who were already struggling with tight health safety restrictions.
“I think we’re suffering from analysis paralysis right here,” Vicary said.
Ultimately, he said, he wanted to try to focus on the non-political aspect of the pandemic.
“At the end of the day, it's a problem solving exercise,” Vicary said.