The Cook County building and its administrative office building will reopen to the public early next month, which is also when the first wave of county employees will return to work, officials said Wednesday.
That return to in-person work on July 6 take place on the same day buildings like 69 W. Washington, the county’s administrative office building, will reopen to the public, though the county is taking precautions to try to keep people safe.
Anyone who enters the buildings will be required to wear a mask or facial covering and undergo thermal wellness and health screenings, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday at a news conference announcing the reopening plans.
“We’ve been through a difficult time,” Preckwinkle said. “While we’ve made incredible progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 over the last few months, the pandemic is clearly not over. It’s important that we continue to follow health guidelines … as we navigate this new phase.”
Since March, many of the county’s meetings have been conducted virtually. When the county will return to in-person meetings is still “to be determined,” Preckwinkle said.
While Elizabeth Granato, the interim bureau chief for the Bureau of Asset Management, said senior staff for departments that Preckwinkle oversees came back to work this week, the county’s July reopening will mark the first time many employees will return to county facilities since access to the buildings was limited in March.
Those employees come from the six bureaus and over 30 departments under Preckwinkle’s purview, including the Bureau of Administration, Justice Advisory Council, Bureau of Asset Management, Bureau of Economic Development, Bureau of Finance, Bureau of Human Resources and Bureau of Technology, among others.
That first wave of returning workers accounts for about 50 percent, or less, of a department’s full-time employee count. The second and third waves of employees will return to work about two to four weeks after the first. The number of employees returning in those waves has not been determined.
Employees must complete an online training before their return.
Potential changes to the reopening plan, should there be a rise in cases, is also “to be determined,” Preckwinkle said.
Jose Rivera, Preckwinkle’s deputy chief of staff, said the return to on-site work won’t be rushed.
“We have our foot on the brake a little bit, but, as conditions allow, we’re going to gradually have waves come back,” Rivera said.