by Vanessa Villarreal, USACE Chicago District Public Affairs Office
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, is taking precautionary measures to protect its workforce, while also remaining fully operational during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The district has a plan in place for continuity of operations during a pandemic crisis such as COVID-19, and is prepared to respond to changes accordingly.
“Safety is our top priority,” Pete Flanagan, chief, Safety Office, said. “The Safety Office recommends everyone follow the CDC guidelines on infection prevention. And, to avoid rumors, make sure that the information you're getting is from competent sources.”
The district remains fully operational, leveraging flexible work schedules and maximizing telework. It’s utilizing technology via virtual and teleconference meetings to keep projects moving forward. However, at this time, large events and public meetings have been canceled or postponed.
While practicing physical distancing, construction activities are ongoing. The district continues to monitor and fully staff its harbor facilities, as well as conduct environmental monitoring and inspections to ensure its mission of providing public safety to local communities continues.
Mike Machalek, senior enforcement officer in the West Permits and Enforcement Section, works enforcement and jurisdictional determinations for all six counties in Illinois. He said teleworking for the past two weeks hasn’t changed his day-to-day activities.
“Things are still getting done,” he said. “I was just out in the field yesterday. And last week I was in Will County checking out eight sites which is my norm. I’m fully functional working at home. I also have letters to write and plenty of data entry to do. Everyone is busy. We can do this for weeks and not run out of work.”
He also added that the district’s Regulatory Program continues to evaluate permit requests for six counties in Illinois, and for Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties north of I-80/I-90 in Indiana. Applicants, consultants, agencies, and the general public should use electronic communication to minimize potential disruptions or delays. If a Corps' project manager has already been assigned, email them directly. For general questions, contact 312-846-5530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Patrick Bray, Public Affairs Office chief, the district continues to monitor the COVID-19 emergency situation and is coordinating with local, state, and federal public health officials for updates. The district will provide additional information to the public as the situation warrants at the district’s website (www.lrc.usace.army.mil) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/usacechicago).