CHICAGO (CBS) — An update to a CBS 2 investigation about vital records, like birth and death certificates stalled for months.  

They’re not considered essential in Cook County. CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey first exposed the problem and the clerk’s office pledged to look into it.

The clerk’s office is now officially accepting requests by mail for certified birth and death certificates. Families waiting for months are grateful but they’re still waiting to actually get those certificates in their hands.

Baby Telmo was born on January 24. But because of COVID-19, his mom Ana Martin doesn’t actually have proof that he’s hers. She is trying to get a birth certificate.

“Anywhere you have prove that this is your child. This is the only piece of paper that proves that,” Martin said.

Out of luck because the Martins spend  their summers in Spain where their entire family lives. And they can’t take Telmo on a plane without a birth certificate.

“It’s been almost three months. That’s a long time to figure this out,” she said.

Grieving families trying to obtain death certificates hit the same roadblock.

“It should have been the easy part. It should have been very easy,” said Wendy Habel. The CBS 2 story led to a call for answers from Cook County Board Commissioner Sean Morrison.

“If we’re not staffing vital records, we really need to start doing that immediately,” Morrison said.

The Vital Record office here at the Daley Center is still closed to in-person services,  but the office is now processing orders.

Martin recently submitted a new order, but she’s still shocked it’s taken this long. She said birth certificates should be considered essential. Martin said she won’t be breathing a sigh of relief until she can hold that certificate in her hands.

“I would really love for his grandparents to be able to hold this guy sometime soon,” Martin said.

As for processing times, the clerk’s office said to keep in mind it has gotten hundreds of orders for certified records since the shut down. And that the office has been working day and night to get them through.


Megan Hickey