URBANA — Don’t think of sheltering in place as a quarantine, local officials advise. Think of it as a two-week vacation and Illinois’ one chance to flatten the coronavirus curve.
The goal is keeping people away from each other, said Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde.
“We have a tiny window of opportunity to get in front of this,” she said.
What this will mean is essential services and businesses will be open, and people will still be able to get necessities, said Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin. So, such things as food, medicine, health care and gasoline will all available.
Manicures and hair appointments, no.
“It separates the necessities from the niceties,” Marlin said.
“Much of life will continue,” she said. “It’s just that the places that we gather with groups of people will not. That means even families, if you’re not living with each other, then you should not gather with each other.”
Police will be out reminding people they see congregating in groups in public places, but they’re not going to be arresting people for not staying home, Marlin said.
“This isn’t martial law,” she said.
It’s important that everyone cooperate, Marlin urged.
“Every single one of us is a first responder, because how we respond today or for the next few weeks is going to determine the course of this in this country,” she said.
Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman, who also serves as the director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, said sheltering in place today and beyond probably won’t look a lot different than what most people have been doing all week.
If you work an essential job, carry your work ID, he advised.
“If you have to be out, make sure you carry an ID that says you work at Walgreens or Carle,” he said. “I don’t believe the police will be out stopping people asking where they are going. That will not be our role.”
With more businesses expected to close, Heuerman said law enforcement will keep a watchful eye out to try to prevent burglaries as well as continue to respond to calls for service that involve threats to life.
“People should use common sense and say, ‘Let me use this as a 14-day vacation, get stuff done around the house and don’t leave unless I absolutely have to,’” he advised. “We never know if it’s an overreaction until it’s done and we’re looking back.”
Vermilion County Health Department Administrator Doug Toole said his take is that nothing much will change from what people are already doing.
“I think people who are responsible have been trying to use the social distancing, working from home, staying home more instead of going out,” he said. “I think most folks are doing that anyway.”
Keep in mind this is about keeping the disease from spreading in the community and protecting loved ones, he said. If you can’t see Mom as often as you like, you can email, text and call her.
Champaign Mayor Deb Frank Feinen said it’s normal to feel anxious and uncomfortable as everyone gets used to what the next few weeks will bring.
“But it’s important to remember that this is proactive to help us contain the virus and keep the community as healthy as we can,” she said.
“The order does not prevent people from taking a walk, from going to the grocery store, from handling necessary day-to-day items,” Feinen said. “So if you need to buy gas, if you need to walk your dog or buy groceries, those things will continue to be allowed.”
While stores providing essential products such as groceries will remain open, Feinen asked the public to be sensitive to the employees to help them stay safe. Instead of bringing family members to the grocery, she suggested, just bring those essential to the shopping trip.
Her advice: Enjoy your time at home with family, enjoy reading and know you’re contributing to a healthier community, she said.