The month of September has seen the greatest peak in Covid-19 cases for DeKalb County since the beginning of the pandemic, reaching 5,728 cases on the 4th. The county was marked with a warning level by the Illinois Department of Public Health on the 11th, joining over two dozen Illinois counties currently designated with an IDPH warning level. Clusters in DeKalb County have been attributed in part to gatherings on NIU campus, and the DeKalb City Manager has also reported large gatherings in both public and private spaces across recent weeks.
Reaction to the rising case numbers has recently taken shape. On August 24th, DeKalb mayor, Jerry Smith, met with NIU and city leaders to discuss a response, and starting September 11th the university switched all undergraduate students’ courses to online-only for the duration of two weeks. On a larger scale, on Thursday the 17th, DeKalb city officials voted on an ordinance which won 7-1, passing into effect a new $300 minimum fine for those who are without masks in spaces where proper social distancing cannot be achieved.
The ordinance will allow for city officials to monitor and call in cases of social distancing violations, but the actual fining capacity will belong to the health department. Those who gather in groups of more than 10 without either wearing face masks, or maintaining a distance of six feet (guidelines mandated in Illinois by Governor Pritzker) could be subject to the $300 minimum fine, if not more in the case of a repeat violation.