Northwestern and Evanston officials share updates on COVID-19 and Dillo Day

Gray+concrete+building+with+flagpole+featuring+U.S.+and+Northwestern+flags+and+small+green+garden+in+front.

Daily file photo by Catherine Buchaniec

Rebecca Crown Center. NU administrators discussed COVID-19 cases and Dillo Day logistics with Evanston residents on Tuesday.

Russell Leung, Assistant Campus Editor

Content warning: This story contains a mention of mass shootings.

Northwestern administrators and Evanston city officials presented COVID-19 and Dillo Day information in a Tuesday virtual community discussion. 

Dave Davis, NU’s executive director of neighborhood and community relations, opened the roundtable with updates from the University, including on the upcoming succession of Rebecca Blank to University president, commencement in June and the Ryan family’s $480 million donation to support research and the renovation of Ryan Field.

Davis said he is excited for Blank to expand relations between NU and the surrounding community.

“I think the relationship between Evanston and Northwestern has been trending in the right direction for a number of years,” Davis said. “I’m confident that she will continue to build on those efforts and even broaden that engagement.”

Vice President for Operations Luke Figora discussed current trends in University COVID-19 transmission. He acknowledged the uptick in cases at NU — which reported a record-high positivity rate of 9.28% on Friday — but said the University will continue all in-person activities.

Figora said NU continues encouraging community members to wear masks and get tested for COVID-19. He added the University’s high vaccination and booster shot rate has mitigated the number of severe coronavirus cases.

“At a high level, things are relatively stable on campus. I think the overall focus on COVID has certainly leveled off a little bit from the Northwestern community,” Figora said. “Our population’s relatively healthy, and we’re looking forward to getting through the rest of the year.”

Ike Ogbo, Evanston’s director of health and human services, discussed the city’s COVID-19 trends. The city reached a high transmission rate last week, Ogbo said. Despite the rise in overall cases, he said the number of cases that require intensive care has not increased significantly.

Several law enforcement officials then provided security updates for Dillo Day. University Police Deputy Chief Eric Chin said the department has collaborated with student groups and Evanston’s police and fire departments. The safety measures will include a vehicle-free zone at the Lakefill, bag checks, an emergency operation center and sound meters.

Chin said the nationwide wave of mass shootings over the weekend is further motivation to implement protective measures for Dillo Day.

“We really want to ensure that this is a very successful event, especially with all the events that have been unfortunately unfolding just this past weekend,” Chin said. “We’re really cognizant of that and just trying to do everything we can to protect everyone that’s involved.”

Richard Eddington, Evanston Police Department’s interim police chief, said the department is deploying 17 personnel for Dillo Day. He said UP will be the primary security force at the Lakefill, while EPD will focus on the surrounding Evanston community. 

Fire Chief Paul Polep added there will be three ambulances on campus running throughout the day, as well as two paramedics on bicycles around Firemen’s Park. 

Weinberg junior and Mayfest University Relations Chair A.J. Rosenthal delivered a Dillo Day logistics presentation. Rosenthal said the group hopes to keep students on the Lakefill, ensure the area remains clean and maintain community safety. Mayfest volunteers will serve as a de-escalation task force and there will be free food and water, Rosenthal said.

Mona Dugo, NU’s assistant vice president of wellness and dean of students, said the University has had “knocks and talks” with students that live in large off-campus homes about respectful behavior on Dillo Day. 

She said the administration suggested students warn their neighbors of gatherings in advance and install portable bathrooms in their backyard to avoid public urination charges.

“We know some of our students are going to host parties on the morning of Dillo Day, and we have emphasized with them that the permanent residents get concerned about noise and trash in the neighborhood,” Dugo said. “In order to try to mitigate some of that, we’ve just had conversations with them about being good neighbors ahead of time.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @rjleung7

Related Stories:

Northwestern donates second fire engine to Evanston Fire Department 

Northwestern Libraries accommodate community, open resources to NU and Evanston 

Evanston residents share thoughts on Northwestern’s Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund