Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveils County’s COVID-19 Response Plan for equitable recovery

Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiled the Cook County COVID-19 Response Plan: From Rapid Response to Equitable Recovery. The plan, announced during President Preckwinkle’s virtual City Club speech, documents Cook County’s initial response to the crisis and outlines priorities for the next several months. In a continuation of the County’s commitment to advancing racial equity, the plan is focused on addressing inequities that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.


“As we shift from response to recovery, we must recommit ourselves to ensuring race or zip code does not determine the ability to meaningfully recover from the physical and financial burdens of COVID-19,” said President Preckwinkle. “This pandemic has laid bare our societal inequities, and highlighted the life and death impacts these inequalities can have.”

The Response Plan follows the framework of Cook County’s Policy Roadmap, a five-year strategic plan to guide the County’s work that was released in 2018. The Policy Roadmap established six areas of focus: Healthy Communities: Health and Wellness; Vital Communities: Economic Development; Safe and Thriving Communities: Criminal Justice; Sustainable Communities: Environmental Sustainability; Smart Communities: Public Infrastructure; and Open Communities: Good Government.


The plan’s guiding principles are to:


  • Provide support in areas where Cook County has the authority and resources to have the greatest impact

  • Prioritize support for Cook County’s most vulnerable populations by using a racial equity lens

  • Maintain continuity of essential public services for residents and businesses throughout Cook County

  • Coordinate efforts with other units of government and strategically leverage shared resources

  • Focus on suburban Cook County, which has substantial needs but limited resources


“I am proud of the collaborative and equity-focused approach that went into the construction of our Response Plan,” said Lanetta Haynes Turner, Chief of Staff to the President. “As we begin the difficult work of recovering from a public health crisis, we are committed to protecting residents, serving vulnerable populations and supporting businesses and municipalities by further building on our efforts outlined by the Policy Roadmap.”


“Cook County Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security approaches ongoing response activities and future recovery efforts through an equity lens to ensure that the social and economic challenges faced by all County communities are identified and mitigated,” said Bill Barnes, Executive Director of the Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security.


“From initiating meaningful taxpayer relief to carefully managing our finances and advocating for Federal relief funding, the Bureau of Finance has been working tirelessly to address the many financial challenges caused by the coronavirus,” said Ammar Rizki, Chief Financial Officer. “During these challenging times, we are committed to being careful, considerate and compassionate fiscal stewards. This plan will be an invaluable guide for our financial efforts as we work to recover and rebuild from this pandemic.”


"This pandemic is amplifying inequities that our most vulnerable businesses and communities are already facing, and economic development is going to be critical to our recovery efforts," said Xochitl Flores, Bureau Chief of Economic Development. "It's not just about what we are doing to address the short-term challenges but how we plan to sustain our efforts for long-term impact, and this plan is a step in the right direction."


“The Recovery Plan outlines the essential steps to successfully containing COVID-19 throughout each phase of our response,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin Senior Medical Officer at the Cook County Department of Public Health. “Our department will work closely with community partners to build a contact tracing program that is community-based and community-centered so people in our jurisdiction feel comfortable sharing information with our agency. We will also continue to provide infection control guidance to organizations serving the most vulnerable to the virus, such as long-term care facilities and homeless shelters.”


“Ensuring that people in Cook County will have equal access to the care and resources to recover from this pandemic will require a deliberate investment of resources in communities that have been systematically disadvantaged,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, Senior Medical Officer at the Cook County Department of Public Health. “The Recovery Plan is the first, critical step in this effort. CCDPH remains steadfastly committed to working with our sister agencies on both rapid response and ensuring an equitable recovery for all suburban Cook County residents.”