DuPage COVID Testing

DuPage County Announces a New Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Site

In response to the exponential spread of COVID-19 cases and the increased need for testing, the DuPage County Health Department is announcing the addition of a second community-based drive-thru testing site to provide additional testing resources in DuPage
County.

The additional COVID-19 testing site will be located at the Odeum Expo Center (1033 N Villa Avenue) in Villa Park, Illinois, and will open on Monday, Nov. 23. The week of Thanksgiving the site will be operational Monday, Nov. 23 through Wednesday, Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or until the daily test capacity of 600 tests is completed each day. The week of Nov. 29, the site will operate from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Friday, Dec. 4 with the same hours and test capacity.

Anyone can be tested, and no appointment, doctor referral, or insurance is required. Visitors are encouraged to pre-register at testdirectly.com/dupage, but pre-registration does not guarantee testing or a place in line for that day. For more information about how to prepare before your visit and what to expect, visit www.dupagehealth.org/covid19testing.

Additionally, DCHD has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to expand mobile testing opportunities by
partnering with local municipal leaders. The mobile test sites rotate throughout the county to increase access to testing for residents. “While testing is a crucial component of DCHD’s COVID-19 response, we must remember that it is only one part of the overall strategy to slow the spread of this virus. Even more important than identifying cases and their close contacts, is preventing new cases from occurring,” said Karen Ayala, Executive Director of DuPage County Health Department.

The Health Department continues to encourage residents to protect themselves and their families by staying home as much as possible, avoiding all non-essential travel, and not gathering with people from outside of their household. In addition, everyone is reminded to practice the 3Ws, to wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands to slow the spread of COVID-19.

For additional COVID-19 information and resources, visit the DCHD website at www.dupagehealth.org/covid19.

Wet Lab

Rebuild Illinois Wet Lab Capital Program

$9 million Notice of Funding Opportunity to boost development of wet labs across Illinois

Illinois is a global leader in the life sciences industry, featuring some of the top research hospitals and chemical manufacturers in the country.

Wet labs, or laboratories with specialized ventilation and utility connections to allow for research of chemicals and materials, are critical for life sciences innovation to thrive but require large amounts of physical space and are costly to build. Available wet lab space is scarce throughout Illinois, which limits the competitiveness of the state’s life sciences sector, despite our other advantages.

This grant will encourage the development of wet lab space that will be multi-tenant shared space available to incubators, corporations, university researchers, and start-ups. Grant funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to fund the construction or renovation of facilities that house wet lab space and promote the growth of life sciences in Illinois.

On November 18, 2020 at 11:00am, DCEO will be conducting a Wet Lab Capital Program Technical Assistance Webinar which you can register for here

For more information about the program, click here

ComEd

Newest ComEd Program Provides Bill Assistance to Struggling Small Businesses During Pandemic

Small-Business Assistance Programs offers one-time grants and flexible payment options

With many restaurants, bars, retailers and other small businesses across northern Illinois struggling to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, ComEd announced a new bill-assistance program to help eligible small businesses facing financial difficulties.


“Small and family-owned businesses are the backbone of our communities. When they struggle, our neighborhoods struggle.” said ComEd CEO Joe Dominguez. “By offering a new bill-assistance option targeting small and family-owned businesses, we hope to do our part to ensure that the businesses that we all love and depend upon continue to be a part of our lives.”


ComEd’s Small Business Assistance Program provides eligible small-business customers that are past due on their energy bills with a one-time grant equal to 30 percent of their total ComEd balance (up to $1,000) for a limited time. Customers whose electric service has not been disconnected can then set up their remaining balance due on a payment plan of up to six months.


Small-business customers can visit ComEd.com/SmallBizAssistance or call 1-877-4-COMED-1 (1-877-426-6331) to learn more or apply for the Small Business Assistance Program.


Earlier this week, ComEd announced its new Helping Hand program to provide more immediate aid to eligible residential customers most in need during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For a limited time, this financial-assistance program provides an additional one-time grant of up to $300 to help reduce past-due balances of income-eligible customers.


Assistance through the Helping Hand program is administered directly through ComEd, which expedites the verification process so that customers can receive grants more quickly. Residential customers can apply for Helping Hand grants at ComEd.com/PaymentAssistance.


Assistance Options to Help Residential Customers

Helping Hand and the Small Business Assistance Program are the latest in a number of assistance options ComEd has developed since the pandemic to help customers, including a $18 million bill-payment assistance program for residential customers announced earlier this summer.


ComEd has continued the suspension of service disconnections for low-income customers and those who express a financial hardship through March 31, 2021. For other customers, it’s important that they continue to stay current to avoid higher past-due balances into the spring that will be harder to address.
ComEd’s bill-assistance programs also include flexible payment options, financial assistance for past-due balances and usage alerts for current bills. Any customer who is experiencing a hardship or difficulty with their electric bill should call ComEd immediately at 1-800-334-7661 (1-800-EDISON-1), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to learn more and enroll in a program.


ComEd also offers usage alerts and energy-management tips to help customers manage energy use to save money now and on future energy bills. For information, visit ComEd.com/OnlineTools.

 

Food Industry

For Food Industry Leaders, DuPage has all the Right Ingredients

Much like grandma’s famous lasagna, the right location for food processors and distributors comes down to the ingredients.

Only, in this case, it has less to do with meat sauce and mushrooms—and everything to do with transportation channels, water access, local industry expertise, and other key factors.

Located in Illinois—the #1 state for food processing, with more than $180B in annual sales—DuPage County offers a strategic location just west of Chicago, with a rich history of food science and production. Here, food producers have everything they need to grow their business, develop innovative foods, and quickly and efficiently get their products to any market.

Today, DuPage is home to many of the world’s leading food businesses, from the innovation labs of Greenleaf Foods to the “Lasagna Headquarters” of Rana Meal Solutions, as well as Pepperidge Farm, Campbell Soup, Nestle, Ferrara Candy Co., Hormel Foods, and many others (scroll down for a list of top food industry businesses in DuPage).

Today, many of these DuPage businesses are expanding their operations—even amid in the pandemic.

Greenleaf Foods, SPC, producer of some of the world’s most delicious and nutritious plant-based protein—including the #1 meatless hot dog in the U.S.—recently expanded their DuPage facility. Earlier this year, the company signed a long-term lease in Lisle (DuPage) for a new 23,000-SF innovation center. The center features a test kitchen, laboratory and pilot plant. Greenleaf recently took a leading market position in the refrigerated, plant-based protein category, and their Lisle expansion is part of a greater strategy to grow their operations and continue diversifying their portfolio.

<Food Industry

“Our innovation center in Lisle will be an essential hub for collaboration and ideation that helps us drive and sustain business growth,” says Dan Curtin, President of Greenleaf Foods. “Plus, it’s centrally located near our corporate office and Chicago’s O’Hare airport, making it convenient for our customers and associates to visit.”

And Greenleaf is far from the only food business upgrading their operations in DuPage. Rana Meal Solutions, a leading producer of pasta in Europe and, more recently, the U.S., has expanded their facility in the Brewster Creek Business Park of Bartlett (DuPage). Much of Rana’s fresh lasagna is now produced in the new 326,000-SF building, which has earned the nickname “Lasagna Headquarters.”

DuPage County: Benefits for the Food Industry

  • The Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH). Located just outside DuPage in Bedford Park, the IFSH is a one-of-a-kind applied food science research consortium comprised of the Illinois Institute of Technology, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and leaders of the food industry. In collaboration with the FDA, the IFSH provides stakeholders with the opportunity to develop and exchange knowledge, experience and expertise in the areas of food safety, defense, processing and nutrition.
  • Unrivaled industry expertise. Illinois is home to more than 72,000 farms, covering nearly 76% of its total land area. Illinois farms are top producers of corn, soybeans, livestock and dairy. The state also boasts more patents in food-related industries than any other state—in fact, it has more patents than many countries do.
  • Ample access to water. Water is essential for the manufacturing and transportation of food, and DuPage offers more than 100 miles of navigable waterways. The region’s water is supplied by Illinois’ Lake Michigan Water Division. In addition, DuPage County owns and operates six water systems to service customers.
  • A strategic location for production and distribution. Just 25 miles west of Chicago, DuPage is at the heart of an international, multimodal freight gateway, offering: North America’s largest inland port, three nearby international airports (O’Hare, Midway and the DuPage Airport), one of the nation’s busiest rail gateways, seven major interstates and some 30,000 miles of highways. As we saw earlier this year, when numerous flights were canceled that would otherwise transport cargo, having access to multiple transportation modes is essential—especially in times of crisis.

Food Industry

Additional DuPage County Benefits

  • DuPage is home to 127 square miles of prime real estate that will soon offer direct access to O’Hare through the region’s Western Access initiative.
  • Local businesses benefit from a business-friendly climate with low commercial property taxes and a highly skilled and educated workforce.
  • Our residents enjoy a high quality of life, with easy commutes, excellent schools, numerous recreational amenities and more space for work and life.
  • DuPage County’s highly desirable commercial properties offer space for large industrial facilities and flexible leases.

Top Food Industry Employers in DuPage:

  • Greco & Sons
  • Get Fresh
  • Rana Meal Solutions
  • Cheese Merchants of America
  • Treehouse Foods
  • Hearthside Food Solutions
  • Wilton Brands
  • Harvest Food Group
  • Pepperidge Farm
  • Nonni’s Foods
  • Campbell Soup
  • Hormel Foods
  • Armour-Eckrich Meats
  • Nestle
  • Otto & Sons
  • Bay Valley Foods LLC
  • Tyson Foods
  • Sara Lee Frozen Bakery
  • McCain Foods
  • Amalgamated Sugar Co.

Hungry for more? Get the facts about the Food Processing & Distribution industry in DuPage County, IL.

Sneeze

Ventilation System Guidance During COVID-19

The following information has been provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health:

The purpose of this report is to provide a quick overview, practical guidance, and resources for heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems during COVID-19. More comprehensive guidance for HVAC systems is available from the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in its Guidance for Building Operations during the COVID-19 and Guidance for the Re-Opening of Schools and Universities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends schools, child-care programs, workplaces, congregate living facilities, and other locations consider upgrades or improvements to their HVAC system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brief summary of recommended HVAC system improvements:

  • Increase air changes per hour (ACH).
  • Increase outside air.
    • Use caution in areas where particulate matter or other hazardous air pollutants are a concern.
  • Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV).
  • Open outdoor air dampers to reduce or eliminate recirculation.
    • This may affect thermal comfort and humidity, especially during extreme weather.
  • HVAC system filters should be MERV-rated and properly installed.
    • A minimum efficiency rating value (MERV) of 13 or higher is recommended.
    • Ensure the filters are properly installed and have no gaps to allow air to by-pass them.
  • Keep systems running longer and, if possible, 24/7.
  • Consider using portable HEPA filters in areas with high occupant density, as well as:
    • Higher risk areas such as a school nurse’s office.
    • Locations with no mechanical ventilation or filtration.
    • Poorly functioning HVAC systems to aid the system.

Additional HVAC systems’ guidance

  • Ensure the HVAC system operates properly and provides acceptable indoor air quality for the occupants and building spaces.
    • Understand the limitations and specific type of your building’s HVAC system.
    • Check common areas (e.g., bathrooms, kitchens, etc.) and exhaust fans to ensure they are working correctly.
    • Check that the ducts are balanced and working according to the system design.
    • Obtain consultation from experienced HVAC professionals when considering changes to HVAC systems and equipment.
  • Periodically clean all HVAC systems and replace filters so the system can function properly.
    • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations on maintenance and filter replacement.
  • Consider running business and school HVAC systems at maximum outside airflow (100 percent) for two hours before the first individual arrives and two hours after the last individual leaves.
    • If possible, extend this recommendation beyond the time suggested above.
  • When weather conditions allow, increase fresh outdoor air by opening windows and doors.
    • Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk to children or individuals using the facility.
    • Use fans to increase the distribution of outside fresh air while doors and windows are open.
    • Facilities should consult with local fire officials regarding compliance with the fire code and local fire ordinances.
  • Consult with your building engineer before using floor fans, ceiling fans, fan-forced heaters, and similar appliances so they can evaluate changes in air flow that may increase the risk of spreading particulates, droplets, and aerosols from person to person or affect HVAC system performance.
    • Do not direct fans so they are blowing directly at individuals.

Note: Consult with your building engineer and maintenance staff on current practices to maintain the HVAC system and any improvements that can be made.

Where Can I Get More Information?
Contact the IDPH Environmental Toxicology Section
Phone: (217) 782-5830

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS INFORMATION AS A PDF

Kie&Kate Elmhurst

In Elmhurst, community rallies to support local businesses, and businesses rally to support community

Since she founded her boutique in 2008, Kate Kemph, owner of Kie&Kate Couture in Elmhurst, has understood that her business is part of an ecosystem. The community supports her business; her business supports the community; and, like any ecosystem, the strength of one depends on the strength of all.

In 2020, the ecosystem was put to the test. Elmhurst, like every community, has faced the economic impact and human devastation of the pandemic. But Elmhurst has proven to be resilient, thanks to the creativity of local leaders and the powerful bond between residents and local businesses. Now, the community is showing signs of growth and healing.

Today, we’re taking a look at Elmhurst through the eyes of Kate, a local business leader, to see how her boutique has emerged from a tough year stronger than ever—and how she’s giving back.

While sales were slow at the beginning of the pandemic, Kate’s boutique—which offers clothing, health products and more—pivoted quickly, and that made all the difference. Within the first weeks of the shutdown, Kie&Kate began offering a new product, weekly ‘Friday Feel Good’ packages filled with items hand-picked from the store. It was the first of many innovations to come.

As Kate says, “People went crazy for them.”

In addition to new marketing initiatives, like Feel Good Fridays, Kie&Kate launched a new online ecommerce platform. At a time when Amazon was only shipping essentials and big-box retailers like Nordstrom were 3-4 weeks delayed, Kie&Kate’s new platform enabled them to offer curbside pickup, delivery and shipping within 48 hours or less. Meanwhile, the boutique added new products to their inventory that appealed to customers in 2020: work-from-home clothing, loungewear, spa-at-home products and masks.

Even before the pandemic, Kate says that her boutique had a loyal customer base. But, by doubling down her efforts on social media, she was able to engage that base like never before and grow it.

“I was personally forced to step outside my comfort zone and get in front of my customers on social media,” says Kate, who found that providing helpful content to her customer base ultimately drove sales and built loyalty. “Offering stories, advice, recipes and virtual shopping hours turned out to be helpful and warmly received.”

The quick-thinking and hard work paid off, and Kie&Kate is having their biggest year yet. Sales are up, and—thanks to their online platform and social media content—Kate says that sales during Mother’s Day week were as high as they usually are at the height of the holiday season.

Kie&Kate was far from the only Elmhurst business to pivot during COVID-19. Numerous local shops created ecommerce options and expanded their social media presence. Local restaurants altered their menus and offered new ways for their customers to safely get their food, like walk-up service windows, delivery services and interesting at-home options. (For example, one local business offered an at-home crepe kit that proved to be a hit.)

And while these businesses were forced to pivot and think creatively, Kate says that they couldn’t have been successful without the support of the surrounding community.

“The entire town rallied around my business during COVID,” she says. Local residents showed their support by placing orders, sharing posts on social media, and tuning into Kie&Kate’s weekly Instagram Live stream.

Local businesses, organizations and officials lent a hand. For example, the District 205 Foundation partnered with various small-business owners—with Jennifer Blanchette from Maxine’s Boutique taking point—to organize a Boutique Crawl, a fundraiser that brought the community together.

“The City of Elmhurst was also very supportive of our business and continues to be helpful and responsive,” Kate says. “Erin Jason (the Business-Development Coordinator for the City of Elmhurst) called me at the beginning of the shutdown to offer advice, support, and give me a lay of the land. I was very clear on what we were allowed to do, and that made it easier to bring in additional staff to help with my business.”

The City of Elmhurst has supported local businesses throughout the pandemic—often in surprising ways. For example, the City has allowed restaurants to expand outdoor dining on public and private property, established dedicated curbside pick-up locations, and expanded the liquor licenses of some businesses to accommodate for outdoor seating. City officials have also allowed City-owned property to be used for outdoor fitness classes and have worked with individual businesses to find new opportunities.

And while the community has rallied to support local businesses like Kie&Kate, these businesses have, in turn, given back to the community. Several restaurants have fed frontline workers; banks have helped hundreds of Elmhurst businesses secure CAREs Act Funding; and, when possible, numerous business owners have donated to recovery efforts.

Throughout the pandemic, Kate’s boutique has found creative ways to support teachers, nurses and other frontline workers. A few examples: They donated $1,000 to the Elmhurst District 205 COVID Relief Fund, contributed $350 to the Chicago COVID Response Fund, have given countless yards worth of fabric to people and organizations making masks, and have even created custom care packages.

“I love supporting the community through my business,” Kate says. “There are so many incredible organizations, foundations, causes, fundraisers and clubs in Elmhurst. We live in an active, vibrant town with many talented, professional and creative people.

“I love coming together to impact our community in positive ways.”

While the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn have hit every community hard, Elmhurst seems to be on its way toward a better future. Drive through Elmhurst today, and you’ll see signs of progress: new industrial building popping up, residential projects preparing to welcome new tenants in 2021, “Coming Soon” signs in windows along the downtown main street and throughout the community.

No words can do justice to the challenges our towns and families have faced this year. But communities like Elmhurst show that creative people working together can make it through the most difficult times—and even come out stronger on the other side.

Elmhurst is a community in DuPage County, Illinois. Like Elmhurst, communities across DuPage have rallied to support local businesses, protect the health of residents and visitors, and even use science to fight back against COVID-19.

Learn more at ChooseDuPage.com/Ready

Wynndalco Offers 50 College of DuPage Students a Stronger Tech Connection

For most of us, 2020 will go down in the books as one of our most challenging years; for local college students, those same challenges—health, work, and financial concerns—also collided head-first with a technology shortage due to a massive movement toward distance learning. But for 50 College of DuPage (COD) students, their studies will get a bit easier (and their technology access more dependable) thanks to Wynndalco Enterprises’ donation of 50 Dell Pentium laptops in Mokena on November 2.

Wynndalco founder and CEO, David Andalcio, is well-versed in education challenges himself, having emigrated from his native Trinidad in his early teens to a foreign US school environment. His hunger to excel propelled him forward but also formed a deeply philanthropic spirit: He’s quite familiar with the plight of students who don’t have the same opportunities simply because of geography, history, and funding. And he’s mindful of changing that landscape, however and wherever he can.

“David is a member of the COD Foundation board and so learned of the COVID relief fund we’ve established for students who need the most support, technology-wise,” says Karen Kuhn, Foundation executive director. “While COD currently offers a technology rental program, these 50 laptops actually will go to 50 students directly and stay with them throughout their time at COD, so they can concentrate on their studies and have one less thing to worry about.”

As with so many others involved in K-16 education, Kuhn recognizes the tremendous technology requirements needed for larger families with multiple students involved in e-learning who are often struggling to share a single device. For a college-level workload, it’s almost impossible to do well.

“There’s been a huge shortage of laptops since schools changed to distance learning and scrambled to offer one-to-one, student-to-device ratios,” Andalcio explains. “But we have long, supportive relationships with today’s leading technology suppliers plus a lot of public schools both here and abroad and were able to use our connections to help make these donations happen.”

Founded in 1967, COD boasts nearly 3,000 full- and part-time faculty on its 254-acre campus in west suburban Glen Ellyn and serves an average semester enrollment of 25,000 students. In fact, some of Andalcio’s family and staff have attended there and used that valuable local education to continue on at some of COD’s many partner schools (Benedictine and Northern Illinois Universities, for example). In fact, Sean Noonan, DuPage County Board Member, was one such student years ago, and appreciates the attention Andalcio gives toward myriad DuPage County efforts—from education to transportation to the Emergency Telephone System.

“Working alongside David, I see how he supports both sides of the aisle; the most important thing is helping kids with their education and making our communities better,” Noonan explains. “It is just a generous thing to share the tools for learning that are so needed today…and what better timing than now, when kids are scrambling?”

Adds Andalcio, “I believe so strongly that access to technology and the Internet simply should not be barriers for today’s students. Wynndalco regularly donates hundreds of units annually to do our part in making education more accessible. Now more than ever, we need to come together and help where we can.”   

Established in 2009, Wynndalco is a certified DBE/MBE/SBE/BEP that serves educational institutions, state- and local governments, Fortune 500 and -100 businesses, and transportation entities with proven, affordable, professional support for End-User Device Management, Warehouse & Logistics, Project Management, Technology Infrastructure Operations, and SMART Board® and A/V services. For more information, visit www.wynndalco.com.