Cook County logo. WTIP file photo
WTIP file photo

Cook County declares state of emergency over COVID-19

The Cook County Board of Commissioners have declared a state of emergency to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an announcement that could lead to the temporary closure of more local businesses and force more tourists to stay away from the North Shore.

The decision comes as the state’s number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase, including reaching rural counties in central and southern Minnesota.

On Monday, Minnesota confirmed 19 new cases of the novel coronavirus, for a statewide total of 54.

By declaring a local state of emergency, Cook County’s emergency management department can request funding from, and work in cooperation with other agencies, including from the state and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The board passed a resolution on a 4-0 vote to adopt the resolution declaring a state of emergency in Cook County.

Commissioner Dave Mills was absent from today’s meeting. Mills is returning home from a trip to Costa Rica this week with a group of local students from the Great Expectations School in Grand Marais.

Originally scheduled for a committee of the whole work session, the board opted to convene in a regular session today so they could take action on specific resolutions regarding COVID-19 and vote on matters of significance, according to Board Chair Myron Bursheim.

The county also passed an advanced sick-leave policy during today’s meeting, as well as a temporary telework policy for some county employees. Human Resources Director Pam Dixon explained the objectives and reasoning behind these temporary changes to how local government will function.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Interim-County Administrator Rena Rogers for an update on how the coronavirus could, and is impacting Cook County government.