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Local

Lauzen resurrects resolution to stop publishing coroner's COVID-19 death totals

Coroner defends his coronavirus death numbers as accurate

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen speaks at an earlier board meeting.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen speaks at an earlier board meeting.

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GENEVA – A week after a 12-11 vote tabled a resolution to stop Kane County Connects from publishing the coroner’s weekly press release on the county’s COVID-19 deaths in favor of having only the Kane County Health Department data published – the measure is on the agenda again for a special meeting 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen still wants to Kane County Connects coordinator Rick Nagel from republishing Coroner Rob Russell’s press releases in the county’s electronic newsletter because his coronavirus death numbers are different than what is posted by the Kane County Health Department.

In an email to Board members, Kane County Coroner Rob Russell wrote that he would continue to send out his weekly coronavirus death tabulations.

“As of today, May 18, 2020, my office has painstakingly and accurately calculated that 153 people have passed due to COVID-19,” Russell’s email stated. “We have proof of each of these deaths and that each were COVID positive. This is what we do. We are experts in death investigation.”

Russell pointed out the Kane County Health Department, www.kanehealth.com, states there were 113 deaths from coronavirus.

“If one subtracts the non-residents of Kane County from my numbers, (14 non residents), that puts my number at 139 Kane County residents that have died,” Russell’s email stated.

“My question to each of you is, where are the additional 26 deaths? The answer is they haven’t been counted yet. The health department numbers are behind,” Russell’s email stated. “If each of you is OK with publishing week-old numbers as updated numbers, then vote how you will. I am not OK with that.”

Russell’s email stated he sends a copy of his office’s numbers every week “and will continue to update the citizens via legitimate media outlets. Several citizens have expressed their disappointment that this has been resurfaced.”

At the May 14 regular County Board meeting, Board member Theresa Barreiro, D-Aurora, moved to table the issue, which passed 12-11, effectively shutting down all further discussion.

“When a motion is tabled, the procedure is usually that it goes back to that committee and the committee revisits it,” Barreiro said.

But because the resolution originated with the chairman, he can bring it back for reconsideration – which is what he did.

“I wish I would have said ‘indefinitely,’” Barreiro said of her motion to table.

Lauzen said the resolution was simply postponed.

“I’ve given them a week and we will pick it up tomorrow," Lauzen said. "In some other circumstances, the chairman of the board must make that management decision. I wanted to defer to the will of the board – so I’m bringing it to the board.”

Last week, Kane County Connects coordinator Rick Nagel made an impassioned plea to board members to vote against the resolution.

Nagel had described the coroner’s Monday afternoon reports as the most accurate, complete, timely and includes local data regarding COVID-19 deaths in Kane County.

The agenda for Tuesday’s special meeting also includes a short program from Lauzen and discussion on “Steps Forward for a Safely Reopening of Kane County.”

The public can access the meeting remotely by following the instructions online at

www.countyofkane.org.

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