ROCKFORD — Mayor Tom McNamara is forming 10 "Rockford Rebounding" working groups to develop recommendations for how the city can bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resident-run groups will team local experts with city officials. They will examine the city’s arts and culture, municipal budget, education and workforce development, government efficiency, health care, human services, industry, public infrastructure, small business, and tourism and hospitality climates, McNamara said.
"These are incredibly difficult times for all of us," McNamara said. "However, we remain hopeful as we look toward the day after COVID-19. At the same time we are spending energy and resources fighting the spread of the pandemic, we are looking to keep our city moving and planning for recovery."
McNamara already has tapped more than a dozen residents who will join city officials and aldermen in groups that are expected to work for up to 120 days. They will get to work almost immediately and begin meeting online.
Instead of asking for an overarching report, McNamara is hoping the groups will give the city real-time recommendations for how to improve its recovery from the pandemic.
"There is an extremely delicate balance between an ongoing public health crisis and our need to reopen our business community," McNamara said. "However, we do know when our public health and medical experts are confident that it’s the right time, we will get back to work. Our recovery must get off to a fast and off to a strong start."
Alderman Chad Tuneberg, R-3, who will serve on both the small business and public infrastructure working groups, said business owners and families are being crushed by the statewide stay-home-order and other restrictions.
Tuneberg said he would like to see a wider reopening of small businesses with social distancing practices in place beyond curbside pickup and delivery as soon as possible.
"I would hope that these working groups are going to be outdated because hopefully we’ll be back to work sooner rather than later," Tuneberg said.
A second COVID-19 testing site will open on Monday at Auburn High School, 5110 Auburn St., according to the city of Rockford’s Facebook page.
This site will operate similarly to the UIC Health Sciences Campus site on Parkview Avenue in Rockford that opened Friday.
Appointment and referrals are not needed.
The Auburn High School site will be run by Crusader Community Health with support from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Staff writer Corina Curry contributed to this report.
Jeff Kolkey: firstname.lastname@example.org; @jeffkolkey