McLean County investigates COVID complaints
Written by Catrina Petersen on September 15, 2020
Photo courtesy to MCHD
NORMAL, Ill.- The McLean County Health Department’s Environmental Health Division continues to conduct food safety inspections in accordance with the frequency required by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the McLean County Revised Code in which various food establishments are inspected based upon their risk categorization.
COVID-19 complaints have created additional complaint investigations not only within food establishments; but other businesses as well. These other businesses include, but are not limited to: hardware stores, barber shops and hair salons, municipalities, retail stores, automotive dealerships and repair, rental properties, long term care facilities, medical facilities, etc.
Environmental Health staff have used and currently use CDC guidelines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s Advisory Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Guidelines, the Restore Illinois Plan, Illinois Department of Public Health Guidelines, and the Governor’s Executive Orders and Emergency Rule as guidance to determine compliance.
The Environmental Health division does not conduct routine COVID-19 compliance inspections. The division investigates all COVID-19 complaints as described within your following question.
What if a restaurant is not following COVID regulations?
The governor recently issued an Emergency Rule amendment to Title:77 Public Health Part 690 Control of Communicable Diseases Code. This rule requires all people over the age of two and medically capable to tolerate a face covering to wear a face covering while in a public place and unable to maintain a social distance of six feet.
“All businesses in which we receive a complaint are contacted,” said Director of Environmental Health Tom Anderson. “The first complaint is addressed by telephone or electronic mail to inform management of the complaint and ask them what procedures they have in place to comply with the guidelines.”
Staff use this contact to verbally educate the management on ways to comply with the guidelines.
“A second complaint of the same nature as the first complaint results in a letter to the business asking for written policies and procedures,” said Anderson. “The letter will contain enclosures demonstrating how facial coverings are to be properly worn and guidelines from the Illinois Department of Human Rights explaining how businesses can accommodate patrons who cannot wear a facial covering due to medical conditions.”
A third complaint results in a site visit to confirm if the business is abiding by their own policies and procedures. Another letter is sent documenting the observations of the site visit and requesting the business’ voluntary compliance.
The second and third letters are copied to other regulatory agencies such as the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, the local municipality, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Illinois Liquor Commission, etc.
“The job has become more demanding trying to complete daily services for essential business operations such as septic system evaluations for real estate transactions, septic system inspections, water well inspections and food safety inspections while addressing the numerous COVID-19 complaints received on a regular basis,” said Anderson.
No specific training was provided to investigate complaints regarding the COVID guidelines, Executive Orders, or Emergency Rule.
The McLean County Health Department has not closed any businesses associated with a COVID-19 complaint or employees testing positive for COVID-19.