Unvaccinated Council members could face censure or be barred from meetings without negative COVID-19 test

By Bob Seidenberg
Evanston City Council members will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or otherwise show they have tested negative against the disease – facing censure or expulsion from meetings if they fail to comply.

Mayor Daniel Biss recommended the resolution to amend the city’s rules under a proposal to be considered at the Monday, Jan. 24 City Council meeting.

The meeting, to be held virtually, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday and will be viewable online at cityofevanston.org/channel or on Cable Channel 16.

In a survey conducted by the RoundTable last November, before booster shots were available here, all but two of the 10 council members – the nine ward representatives and the mayor – reported that they had received two vaccinations.

Two ward representatives did not respond to inquiries about their vaccine status.
At the time, Council members had resumed holding in-person meetings, often working in close quarters with each other as well as with staff in closed executive sessions held in a small room off council chambers.

Mandatory requirement for city employees

The requirement that council members be vaccinated or tested mirrors an October directive from Ike Ogbo, the city’s Director of Health and Human Services, requiring city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The policy applied to all city staff, including seasonal and part-time workers, contractors, volunteers and interns.
“Getting vaccinated is the single most important action we can take to protect ourselves, our families, our coworkers and our community from COVID-19,” Biss said at the time.

In December Ogbo followed with a directive requiring proof of vaccination in order to patronize certain establishments, noted Nicholas Cummings, the city’s Corporation Counsel, in a memo, tracking the steps the city has taken.

Under the proposal up for consideration at the Jan. 24 meeting:

City Council members are to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof to the city’s Director of Health and Human Services.
A Council member is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the second dose series of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Any Council member who is not vaccinated against COVID-19 shall submit to the Director of Health and Human Services proof of a COVID-19 test with a negative result taken within 24 hours of each City Council meeting.
Failure of a member of the City Council to comply with the rule is subject to censure by a majority vote of the members present or expulsion for the remainder of the meeting by a two-thirds vote of those present.

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