One of Blue Island’s slogans is “think outside the Loop.” It’s the south suburb’s twist on the phrase “think outside the box.”
Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas took an unorthodox approach last month when, after learning that one of the city’s police officers had contracted the coronavirus, he had the entire force stand down.
He closed the police station and called in Cook County sheriff’s deputies.
Vargas said it was a matter of public safety, and not only does he defend his actions, he said he would do it again if need be.
Members of the City Council felt otherwise, and reigned in the mayor’s powers, handing over control for dealing with emergencies to the police and fire chiefs.
The coronavirus, and the economic decline put in place by the stay-at-home order, is the latest punch for Blue Island.
Late last year, some 800 employees lost their jobs when the MetroSouth hospital shut down.
The fallout has hit some Blue Island businesses hard; without nurses, doctors, patients and visitors coming to the hospital, diners, florists and other businesses saw a drop-off of about 20%.
COVID-19 is now prompting the reopening of the medical center, albeit not as a hospital but as an acute care facility for COVID-19 patients.
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Covid Across Chicago
How is the novel coronavirus impacting local businesses, residents and social service agencies across the city and region? And how are local leaders handling the crisis? We hit the streets to answer those questions and more in our ongoing reporting series, COVID-19 Across Chicago. See where we’ve been and what we’ve discovered in this overview. Listed is the official Chicago community area with the neighborhood in parenthesis where appropriate.