CHICAGO— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today joined the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Chicago Police Department (CPD), Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) to announce the City of Chicago's 10-day preparedness and safety plan for the upcoming Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and for all of next week. Over the past month, the City's departments and agencies have been working in conjunction with the Chicago Board of Elections to deploy resources and supports at every polling station and neighborhood to ensure residents can safely participate in this year's election and exercise their First Amendment rights.
"The act of voting is sacred to our democracy, which is why we are deploying every last public health and public safety resource to ensure that right is protected for every single one of our city's residents," said Mayor Lightfoot. "Through months of preparations and contingency planning between all of our departments and agencies, the City has worked tirelessly through an all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure a safe and smooth Election Day."
As part of the 10-day safety plan, OEMC is activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) today in a citywide effort to monitor any activity and crowds as well as coordinate resource requests and responses to individual situations with City departments, agencies, the Chicago Board of Elections as well as county, state and federal partners. Over the past several weeks, OEMC has held multiple preparedness workshops with the City's public safety and infrastructure departments, businesses, agencies and partners to provide an overview of the City's efforts and conduct various hazard scenarios, including severe weather, COVID-19 outbreaks and possible protests stemming from not knowing who the winner of the presidential election is until the days following Election Day.
"The City's Emergency Operations Center is a collaborative effort between City departments, the Chicago Board of Elections, sister agencies, along with county, state and federal partners," said OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice. "Our priority is to monitor citywide activity in order to respond to any event and ensure the safety and well-being of all residents."
To supplement on-the-ground public safety resources, CPD will increase its patrol beyond its regular deployments starting today. As part of this effort to further ensure the City can rapidly respond to all situations, CPD has cancelled days off Department-wide for Halloween and Election Day, and for select citywide teams during the week of the election. While the Department is focused on crimefighting prevention efforts, officers will continue to ensure residents expressing their First Amendment rights are protected and given the public safety supports they need to stay safe. Additionally, the City will deploy more than 60 infrastructure assets that will be strategically positioned by OEMC to support and protect neighborhood commercial corridors and critical businesses in the event of potential public safety incidents.
"During this unprecedented year of pandemic and civil unrest, CPD is working around-the-clock to ensure public safety ahead of the upcoming election," said Chicago Police Department Superintendent David O. Brown. "We have put a public safety strategy in place to protect the sacred right to vote."
To ensure residents can safely vote in-person this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CDPH has been working closely with the Chicago Board of Elections to ensure all polling locations have a COVID-19 prevention plan. These public health plans provide every polling location with cleaning and disinfection protocols, traffic flow guidelines to ensure social distancing and required face-coverings for all employees.
"In partnership with the Chicago Board of Election and Illinois Department of Public Health, we have been working diligently to ensure every polling station in Chicago has the public health resources needed to protect against COVID-19," said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. "By ensuring every polling stationhas a COVID-19 prevention plan and abides by the proper health precautions, all Chicagoans should know that if they, too, take the proper precautions that it remains safe to vote before or on Election Day."
With expected rallies and large gathering demonstrations surrounding the election, the City has communicated heavily with Chicago's business community to ensure they have the resources and guidance needed to be prepared for such activity. The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) continues to urge all businesses to sign up for CHIBIZ emergency alerts. By signing up, local businesses can receive geo-targeted emergency alerts directly from OEMC for their community.
"Over the past several weeks, BACP has been working diligently to ensure that Chicago's business community is prepared for the possibility of events, large demonstrations and rallies that may occur around Election Day," said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno.
Starting next week, OEMC is also launching a Business Operation Center (BOC), a physical facility created for the private sector partners to exchange real-time information and provide situational awareness during public safety or public health issues. A first-of-its-kind effort, the BOC is designed to expand the communication and operational components by utilizing businesses and key subject-matter experts with the ability to contact security onsite and distribute accurate information.
OEMC is also reminding residents that they can also receive emergency alerts for updates on street closures and public transportation by subscribing to Chicago's text or email alert system at NotifyChicago.org or follow the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) on Facebook and Twitter @ChicagoOEMC.