City officials have established an incident command system and set a list of objectives, moving forward on what now looks like an extended fight against the Covid-19 virus.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced on March 31 that his shelter-at-home order, which was set to expire April 7, will run through the end of the month, in line with the new federal directive issued earlier.

At a special City Council meeting March 26, Evanston Mayor Stephen Hagerty stressed the importance of continued vigilance to the stay at home directives — which include practicing social distancing and limiting exposure as much as possible.

Either, “we rise to the occasion or make a lighthearted attempt to follow directives, in which case the virus will grow exponentially,” he said.

The only response to the stay-at-home order is a “‘must’ do – it’s not a next [do]. I can’t stress that enough,” he said.

With the Incident Command System, officials are turning to the same type of system has been used by police, fire and emergency personnel in the case of large scale disasters.

Officials have established the command center at the new Robert Crown Community Center, 1801 Main St.

The group’s unified command is composed of the Mayor, Interim City Manager, Public Health Director, Fire Chief, Police Chief and Public Works Director.

Depending upon the operational period, the group is to set and rank emergency objectives every 24 to 48 hours.

“This is a system that ensures that we have a flow of decision making and span of control that can easily be understood by members of the team, and we can share the priorities and then help develop the tasks among the team,” said Interim City Manager Erika Storlie, speaking at the meeting, at which she and others participated in through remote hookups.

The group’s objectives, according to the presentation, include the following:

  • Assisting long-term care facilities and other organizations which serve the City’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations;
  • Developing and implementing housing and transportation services for those in need of self-isolation;
  • Coordinating with hospitals to expand capacity/services;
  • Maintaining the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE), prioritizing health care, first responders, and those confirmed cases in self-isolation;
  • Protecting City staff and residents by providing timely, specific, and consistent COVID-19 information.

    Other objectives highlighted in the presentation include

  • Tracking the spread of COVID-19 and identify those at risk in Evanston in order to slow the spread of the virus;
  • Developing a volunteer management plan to better manage COVID-19 response and recovery;
  • Understanding and addressing food accessibility/insecurity by collaborating with community partners;
  • Formulating a data analytics group to better identify future projections of incident need

Officials are identifying opportunities for volunteer support in the community-wide effort, establishing a one-stop portal at cityofevanston.org/covidvolunteers.

We're asking not just for volunteers today and tomorrow,” Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson said at the meeting, “but also looking down the road.

“Those who are bilingual are going to be a need, as are those who have technical skills,” she said.

But the City is also seeking “those individuals who may be interested in serving in a soup kitchen or helping pack food,” she said “So there are all different skill sets and levels of need that we're looking for.”