In what was described as a “precautionary measure,” City of Evanston officials have announced the postponement of several upcoming major events in response to the Coronavirus’s spread.

Mayor Stephen Hagerty’s State of the City address to the Evanston Chamber of Commerce on March 13, and the long-anticipated Open House for the new Robert Crown Community Center and Library scheduled for March 14 will be postponed to future dates, officials announced late in the day, March 11.

In addition, to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 to the senior population, all senior classes at the Levy Senior Center will be canceled beginning Thursday March 12 until further notice, the City release said.

The City of Evanston has no reported case of an Evanston resident contracting the virus at this time, said Mayor Hagerty.

But, “as I said to the City Council the other night, it’s only a matter of time,” he said in a telephone interview, speaking about the decisions.

Officials moved to cancel the events, both expected to draw large crowds, mindful that the Coronavirus “is a real threat, particularly to older Evanstonians, anyone over the age of 60,” as well as others “who have compromised immune or respiratory systems,” the Mayor said, adding:

“If we don’t take protective measures to flatten the curve and slow down the pace of the Coronavirus in our community, we’re going to overwhelm the healthcare system,” he warned, “and, when we overwhelm the health care system, doctors are going to have make some life-and-death decisions.”

“No one wants that,” he said, “so it’s imperative all of us take this very seriously.”

As the situation evolves, officials said, the City will evaluate events beyond this weekend to determine when and how they will proceed, and will notify the public as updates become available.

“The City is also evaluating the implementation of social distancing measures at future City events and meetings, and will be encouraging residents to participate online or on City television when possible,” officials said in their announcement.

Non-government entities were taking similar steps around major events, too.

In an email March 10, officials with Albion Residential and Village Green Management, the new residential development at 1500 Sherman Ave., announced that their Grand Opening event planned for March 12 had been cancelled, according to an email.

“With growing concern about the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) we want to err on the side of caution,” the email stated. “We apologize for any inconvenience, but our commitment to our clients, investors, partners and residents and guests’ health is our top priority.”

Organizations such as the Albion are looking at the situation and making decisions they believe “align with the City’s effort to slow down the virus’s spread by taking mitigating measures,” said Mayor Hagerty asked about the situation.

He urged residents, meanwhile, to follow the precautionary measures urged by City and the Evanston Health and Human Services Department which continue to work closely with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and local, state and federal health partners.

Officials are recommending residents use the following mitigation measures to stay healthy and limit the potential spread of COVID-19:

• Wash hands frequently

• Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick

• Stay home when sick

• Cover coughs and sneezes

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

• Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects

For more information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Questions about COVID-19 should be directed to the Illinois Department of Public Health, officials said, by calling 1-800-889-3931 or emailing

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.