Breakfast with the Chairman

Supporting Employees’ Mental Health in Today’s World

DuPage County business leaders gathered on Wednesday, February 24 at a virtual breakfast to have a meaningful conversation about supporting employees’ mental health. The event was moderated by Lisa Paolantonio LCPC, a senior counselor at Metropolitan Family Services.

Chairman Cronin opened the discussion with welcoming remarks. “Today’s topic impacts all of us. Mental health has always been a sensitive subject, especially in the workplace. Simply put, people experiencing stress, anxiety and other symptoms are less productive and less engaged. We can no longer ignore the negative effects of the health crisis on our businesses. According to the CDC, of the nearly 410,000 adults aged 19-64 in DuPage County, approximately 75,000 are experiencing mental health issues. Of that group, nearly 18,000 will not receive treatment. This is why we are here today— this is our workforce.”

Following Chairman Cronin, Lisa gave a presentation on supporting employees’ mental health in today’s world. Her presentation focused on how the pandemic has affected the workforce and what employers can do to support them.

Lisa began by stressing the importance of acknowledging what we’ve been through and validating those experiences. “When we name those experiences, it’s much easier to manage them,” she said.

In terms of how the pandemic has impacted employees’ mental health, Lisa said “I like to think of this as the pandemic onion, because there are so many layers to it.”

The Pandemic Onion:

  • Blurred Boundaries – are we working from home or living at work? We’re working longer when we work at home and sharing office space with our living space. This leaves less time for self-care and quality time with family and children.
  • Zoom Fatigue – this is the tiredness or burnout from overuse of screen time. According to Lisa, new data suggests that people feel that they need to make more emotional effort to appear interested while video conferencing, because we are missing out on those non-verbal cues that can be picked up while meeting in-person. This takes a lot more of our emotional energy.
  • Constant Risk Assessment – “This is taking up so much mental energy. It’s the questions we are constantly asking ourselves about our situation,” says Lisa. “The new and shifting information we are constantly getting is making it difficult to process it all. This is creating higher rates of anxiety and stress.”
  • Vaccine ‘Hunger Games’ – “While the vaccine is giving us hope, the roll out has been Hunger Games-style…. it’s confusing and frustrating,” says Lisa.
  • Toxic Positivity – This is the over-generalization of a happy state that results in the invalidation and minimization of the authentic human experience. “We don’t want people’s positivity to result in the invalidation of their own emotions,” says Lisa. “If there is a time you are venting to a colleague about how you are stressed and they respond by telling you to cheer up and not be negative, those are not responses that make people feel heard or validated. It’s possible for us to hold multiple emotions at once. You can be thankful you have a job and also feel overwhelmed by your workload.”
  • Myriad Types of Grief – “Collectively, we are experiencing grief…. And it’s difficult to move through that grief due to the trauma we are experiencing,” says Lisa.

Supporting employees’ mental health is a multi-prong approach. To offer support in a successful and sustainable way, Lisa suggests:

  • Use your resources – lean on your Employee Assistance Program
  • Model healthy behaviors
  • Set the tone and destigmatize mental health
  • Be as flexible and generous as is realistic
  • Communicate more than you think you should
  • Create an employee resource group

Available Resources

At the conclusion of the presentation, Lisa and other attendees shared resources available for businesses to support their employees’ mental health.

American Academy of Pediatrics

DuPage Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Mediation for Healthy Living

DuPage County Community Resource Information System (CRIS)

DuPage County Health Department

Linden Oaks Behavioral Health

Metropolitan Family Services

Watch the Program

STRATACACHE

STRATACACHE Announces New Facility in DuPage for Research, Support and New Product Development

100,000 square foot facility to focus on digital menu, mobile device and application development

DAYTON, Ohio, Feb 22, 2021 — STRATACACHE today announced the purchase of a 100,000 square foot facility in Lisle, Illinois (Chicago), which will house new research and support teams for the digital signage, intelligent display and sensor systems company. The location marks the third facility STRATACACHE has acquired in the past year, in order to support the growing global clientele of the STRATACACHE family of companies, adding several hundred highly technical jobs to the US market.

Despite a globally challenging economic environment, STRATACACHE continues to experience rapid growth in providing advanced technology solutions, such as intelligent display and sensor systems, to clients in key verticals including retail, restaurants, banking, entertainment, transportation and corporate communications. The new facility, a four-story class A building in the western Chicago suburb of Lisle, was formerly a U.S. headquarters for McCain Foods, Inc. More than a dozen large STRATACACHE customers have headquarters in Chicago, and the new location will allow for enhanced local support, as well as a fully outfitted support lab, meeting room space and X2O One Room, an immersive collaboration environment for in-person and remote participation created by X2O Media, a STRATACACHE company.

“As STRATACACHE continues to grow, we look forward to tapping the Chicago market for development and engineering talent to further our work on our new mobile platforms, our advanced tablet compute devices as well as key projects in retail self-service systems,” said Chris Riegel, STRATACACHE CEO. “We will be adding significant staff in the new STRATACACHE Chicago center over the next several months and look forward to enabling world class customer interactive solutions designed to help our customers reduce costs and improve sales in this uncertain economic time.”

STRATACACHE provides a full scope of technological solutions to help retailers, marketers and customer experience teams use intelligent digital display and sensor systems to optimize interaction and engagement with consumers and employees. The new location outside Chicago will allow STRATACACHE to recruit local technical talent and expertise to further the research, development and business development efforts of hardware and application development.

STRATACACHE acquired a 1.4 million square foot factory in Eugene, OR, in March 2020, and is equipping it as a full 300mm wafer microLED display manufacturing facility. STRATACACHE made an additional client support investment in a new 1100+ seat Network Operations and Data center in Waterloo, IA, in November 2020.

About STRATACACHE
STRATACACHE delivers in-store retail experience transformation and exceptional customer journeys through a wide array of marketing technology. Our solutions enable retailers to learn deeply about their customers’ shopping preferences and behaviors, delivering targeted promotional or task-based messaging on any digital display. With 3.3 million+ software activations globally, we power the biggest digital networks for the world’s largest brands. Across the STRATACACHE family of complementary Marketing Technology solution companies, we have the technology, expertise and track record to bring retail innovation that delivers results. Follow STRATACACHE on Twitter @STRATACACHE or on LinkedIn. Learn more about the STRATACACHE family at www.stratacache.com

DuPage Community Vaccination Clinic

DuPage County’s pandemic response is all about collaboration

There isn’t anything quite like visiting a mass vaccination clinic.

When you park at the DuPage County Fairgrounds, the site of a new COVID-19 vaccine center, you’ll head to Building 1, a massive, echoey, hangar-like structure with a high oval ceiling and a floor that’s been painted for an indoor tennis tournament. Inside, there’s a meticulous organization at work. Chairs are arranged in a grid, six feet between each; signs point to important areas; staff in neon vests direct you from station to station.

First, you’ll check in. As long as you scheduled an appointment in advance and aren’t feeling sick, a worker will scan a QR code on your phone and let you in. Now, take a seat. A few minutes later, your name will be called, and you’ll receive a vaccine, perhaps from one of the graduating Elmhurst University nursing students who recently joined the team. After your shot, you’ll return to your seat for fifteen more minutes, to make sure you don’t experience any adverse symptoms. Then, you can leave this otherworldly bubble and get back to your day.

It’s like clockwork. If there were enough vaccines—there aren’t—this site alone could process a thousand people or more each day. In fact, the clinic is so organized, so fast, so factory-like, you almost get the sense that distributing and administering vaccines to the public is, well, easy.

“It’s not easy,” Christopher Hoff told us on a recent Zoom call. Normally, if there wasn’t a global pandemic, Chris would be introduced as the Director of Community Health Resources at the DuPage County Health Department (DCHD). Today, he is the Deputy Incident Commander. Chris oversees the DCHD’s COVID-19 response; he and his team have orchestrated everything from testing and contact tracing to communication and vaccination in DuPage. Right now, the primary focus is vaccination.

The day we spoke to Chris, DuPage had just reached a milestone: The number of residents vaccinated had surpassed the number of local COVID-19 diagnoses since the beginning of the pandemic. Since mid-December, DuPage had administered about 100,000 doses—and, as reported by local media, had vaccinated a greater percentage of its residents than any other Illinois county.

While only a small portion of the local population has been vaccinated—just shy of 3 percent, as of writing—the DCHD has built a coordinated infrastructure of providers, clinics and staff to quickly get vaccines to the residents next in line. The infrastructure is flexible; it’s designed to scale based on the volume of vaccines DuPage receives from the State of Illinois.

So far, that’s mostly meant scaling down to accommodate an extremely limited and inconsistent supply. However, in the coming months, as the State delivers more vaccines, DuPage’s distribution infrastructure will be ready to quickly scale up—reducing the time residents have to wait for vaccines and potentially saving lives.

***

Vaccine distribution is the art of managing uncertainty.

The DCHD doesn’t know how many vaccines they’ll receive a few weeks from now. Each week, the State tells the DCHD how many vaccines they’ll have to distribute over the next seven days (so far, the number has wavered from less than 10,000 up to 20,000). They have no idea how many vaccines they’ll have to distribute and administer until, essentially, it’s on their doorstep.

Despite the uncertainty, DuPage has managed to move vaccines quickly and efficiently. The success is largely due to a community-wide collaboration, formed of new and existing partnerships across the private and public sectors, that’s unique to the region.

The DCHD isn’t a huge agency; they have a staff of about 600. With more than 900,000 residents in DuPage County, a few hundred people couldn’t possibly vaccinate the target 80-100% of the population. While the health department of a smaller county might handle distribution on their own, it just isn’t practical in a place as large as DuPage.

“We really need those partners,” Chris said. “They all have a role to play.”

Within the pandemic response, the DCHD plays the role of coordinator. They’re the conductor, focusing on the big picture, organizing all the disparate parts, cuing organizations when it’s their turn to step up. The DCHD makes sure the right people and resources are in the right place at the right time. Nearly every week, the department meets with mayors, village managers, school superintendents, fire chiefs, police chiefs, hospital administrators, business leaders—all the stakeholders.

As the chief coordinator of DuPage County’s pandemic response, the DCHD shares tools and resources with partner organizations throughout DuPage. They hire nonmedical staff to shepherd people through vaccination sites (110 part-time staff for the fairgrounds alone). They sit down with the leaders of public schools, some of the biggest employers in the state, to answer questions and help them make key decisions. As vaccines become available, the DCHD has partnered with 96 providers across DuPage County—including hospitals, medical offices, your local Jewel, among many others—to coordinate distribution.

“These organizations and leaders have to know what they should do, what their role is. Every aspect of the pandemic response, we’ve coordinated to some extent.”

Elmhurst University is a good example. In February, 60 graduating students from the school’s nursing program joined the DuPage County vaccination team. Working with an instructor from the University, the students are learning to administer COVID-19 vaccines, monitor patients and educate community members about the vaccine.

“The students are thrilled,” said Diane Salvador, PhD, Executive Director and Professor at Elmhurst University’s Department of Nursing and Health Sciences. “They’re serving the community, learning important population health concepts, and being a part of this historic endeavor as we fight to conquer the pandemic.”

In addition to providing much-needed volunteers, the partnership helps DCHD solve a particular challenge. The process of training volunteers is often resource-intensive and logistically complex. But, with the new partnership, Elmhurst University is handling the major components of the training: providing the structure for the course, working out schedules and communicating with students. This takes a burden off DCHD.

“When we work with programs like Elmhurst University to figure out these logistical hurdles, like training personnel, it makes it ten times easier,” Chris said.

DCHD has relationships with higher education institutions throughout DuPage. In the coming months, Chris said, the DCHD’s partnership with Elmhurst University serve as a model for training additional staff.

“I think this kind of collaborative thinking is engrained in DuPage. We have all these partners in the community we can draw on, no matter what the issue is. We couldn’t execute this level of pandemic response without it.”

***

With all the careful planning, coordination and collaboration, why is it so many of us still can’t get a vaccine?

The problem isn’t the County’s distribution effort. If it were, that would be an easier problem to solve. The problem is the supply shortage, the gap between the volume of vaccines DuPage County is capable of distributing and the volume they receive from the State government.

Currently, there just aren’t enough vaccines. As you read this, the DCHD and their partners have the resources to distribute more than five times the volume they’re receiving from the State. (The week we spoke to Chris, they had the capacity to distribute 53,000 vaccines; they received 10,000.)

For those of us waiting for a vaccine, that’s a frustrating figure. It’s also a reason for hope. When the vaccine supply increases—and it will increase—the network of providers lead by the DuPage County Health Department is poised to quickly scale-up their operations, so they can get vaccines to residents as soon as possible.

When it’s your turn to be vaccinated, and you sit in that chair and roll up your sleeve, you probably won’t be thinking about all the time, planning, energy, resources, creativity and community-wide collaboration that went into bringing the vaccine to you. In fact, it will all look pretty ‘easy.’ And that’s kind of the point.  

Lee & Associates of Illinois Brokers Sale of Newly Constructed Property in North DuPage Market

February 2021 — Lee & Associates, the largest broker-owned commercial real estate firm in North America closed on a sale of a brand new 207,575-square-foot industrial building located at 1560 W. Stearns Road, Bartlett, IL. This property is in DuPage County and features 32’ clear ceilings, 28 docks doors and 246 car parking.

Mark Baumhart, CCIM and Jeff Janda, SIOR, principals at Lee & Associates’ Illinois office, represented Platinum Converting in their acquisition of this property from Logistics Property Company. Platinum Converting is a leading provider of finishing services to the print and graphic arts industry both locally and nationwide. Platinum will be relocating from their Itasca location during the summer of 2021.

Adam Marshall, SIOR, CCIM and Mark Deady, CCIM of Newmark Knight Frank represented the seller, Logistics Property Company. The building is part of the Brewster Creek Logistics Park that LPC built in 2020.

Comcast

Comcast Provides Update on Decade-Long Commitment to Digital Equity; Announces Plans to Accelerate Efforts in 2021

Increases Speeds to 50/5 Mbps for All New and Existing Internet Essentials Customers at No Additional Cost

Accelerates Lift Zone Community Center Rollout to Reach 1,000 Sites in 2021

Commits More Than $40 Million in Cash in Digital Equity Grants

Comcast made several recent announcements that build on its longstanding commitment to advancing digital equity, closing the digital divide, and addressing both digital literacy and the homework gap. The new and expanded efforts are designed to help connect as many Americans to the Internet as possible and create new opportunities for underrepresented communities through the education, resources, and skills training they need to succeed in today’s digital economy.

“We’ve been on a mission to address digital inequities in under-resourced communities through Internet Essentials for a decade and there’s never been a greater need than now,” said Dave Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Cable. “As a media and technology company, we have a unique opportunity to provide meaningful connection to the communities we serve – whether that’s through access to the Internet, programs to support creativity and digital literacy and skills training for young people, or workforce development opportunities for adults. Our commitment has never been stronger, and we are dedicated to leveling the playing field and making a lasting impact for generations to come.”

In 2020, Comcast redoubled those efforts, as COVID-19 shined an even brighter light on this important equity issue in our society. And at the onset of 2021 – which coincides with the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program – the company is once again advancing its digital equity commitment.

Accelerating the Nation’s Largest Broadband Adoption Program

For more than a decade, Comcast has focused on connecting millions of low-income families to the Internet through Internet Essentials, the largest and most comprehensive low-cost Internet adoption program for low-income Americans. Since 2011, Comcast has connected millions of people to the Internet at home, donated tens of thousands of free laptops to students and families across the country, and invested $700 million in digital literacy, skills training and awareness programs that have reached 11 million people. Comcast is now doubling the program’s Internet download speed to 50 Mbps and increasing the upstream speed to 5 Mbps for all new and existing customers at no additional cost. To receive the increased Internet speeds, existing customers will not need to do anything. The new speeds will be rolled out nationally beginning March 1. This is the sixth time in 10 years that Comcast has increased broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers while keeping the cost of the service at $9.95 a month. In addition, Comcast rolled out its xFi and xFi Advanced Security product features to Internet Essentials customers for free and

the company continues to offer 60 days of free service to any new Internet Essentials customer who signs up before June 30, 2021.

Launching 1,000 Lift Zones by December 2021

Comcast recently announced a multiyear program to launch more than 1,000 Lift Zones in community centers across the country by working with its network of thousands of nonprofit partners and city leaders. So far, Comcast has installed several hundred Lift Zones to further address the homework gap. Lift Zones provide safe spaces for students to access free WiFi so they can participate in distance learning and do their schoolwork. Comcast is now accelerating that timeline to connect 1,000 Lift Zones by the end of this year – more than a year ahead of its original plan.

“Transforming our Boys & Girls Clubs into Lift Zones has made a huge difference in the lives of the students we serve in Philadelphia,” said Lisabeth Marziello, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia. “Many of the kids who come to our clubs either don’t have the Internet at home or they have it, but they can’t study at home for a variety of reasons and they need somewhere to go. We’re so happy to be able to work with Comcast to give our students a safe, clean space where they can stay in school even when schools are closed.”

Investing in Education and Equity-Focused Organizations

Comcast is also expanding its targeted philanthropic investments in organizations working to increase digital equity and contributing to the collective action needed to drive sustained change. These new organizations and investments are focused on creating greater pathways to opportunities for communities of color, particularly in media, technology, arts, and entrepreneurship.

Since last year, Comcast has committed more than $40 million in cash to education and equity-focused partners that share the company’s goals of advancing social justice and equality. A selection of these partners include Per Scholas, Coded by Kids, Center for Black Innovation, Inner-City Arts, and BUILD.org. As part of the $40 million, Comcast today announced $3.5 million in commitments to partners including CodePath, Genesys Works, Jobs for the Future, NPower, i.c. stars, Opportunity at Work, Goodwill Industries International, YWCA, and Philadelphia Youth Network. Together, Comcast and its partners are helping more people of color gain the education and critical workforce development skills needed to access career opportunities in media and technology.

“Comcast’s investment in CodePath will help us double our impact to reach nearly 5,000 students and over 60 university partners in 2021. As disadvantaged communities struggle with mass job losses in the wake of the pandemic, our courses are one of the few holistic programs placing thousands of underrepresented minorities into our nation’s most competitive technical roles,” said Michael Ellison, Co-Founder and CEO of CodePath. “Through partnerships with CodePath and many other dedicated organizations, Comcast continues to demonstrate its commitment to creating tangible and systemic change, while providing new opportunities for people of color in the tech sector and beyond.”

For more information about Internet Essentials and Comcast’s commitment to education and digital equity, visit https://corporate.comcast.com/education.

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky. Comcast Cable is one

of the United States’ largest video, high-speed Internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand. NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed Internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources Webinar

On Thursday, February 4, Choose DuPage hosted the COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources Webinar. The webinar discussed federal programs to assist businesses, non-profits, and sole proprietors as you navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic. Bo Steiner from the U.S. Small Business Administration shared updates on the most recent iteration of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other small business/non-profit financial assistance programs.

 

Watch the Webinar

 

Ver el webinar (subtítulos en español)

COVID-19

Regions 8 and 9 Move to Tier 1

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced Region 8 (DuPage and Kane) and Region 9 (Lake and McHenry) are moving to Tier 1 effective today. Information about which tier and phase regions are in can be found here.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

  • Indoor service limited to the lesser of 25 guests or 25% capacity per room
  • Establishments offering indoor service must serve food
  • All bar and restaurant patrons should be seated at tables
  • No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
  • Tables should be 6 feet apart
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting

ORGANIZED GROUP RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES (fitness centers, sports, etc.)

  • Sports should follow the mitigation measures set forth in the All Sports Guidance, which outlines appropriate levels of practice and competition based on individual sport risk
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times in fitness centers, including while engaged in individual exercise regardless of person or machine spacing
  • Recreation, fitness centers and outdoor activities (not included in the above exposure settings) follow Phase 4 guidance

MEETINGS AND SOCIAL EVENTS (including weddings, funerals, potlucks, etc.)

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25% of overall room capacity both indoors and outdoors.
  • Applicable to professional, cultural and social group gatherings.
  • Not applicable to students participating in-person classroom learning, or sports.
  • This does not reduce the overall facility capacity dictated by general Phase 4 business guidance such as office, personal care, retail, etc.

IDPH will continue to closely monitor test positivity, ICU bed availability, and the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19. Should data show regions trending in the wrong direction, based on the established mitigation metrics, regions could once again find themselves in a higher tier with increased measures.

Metrics for moving from a higher to lower tier are as follows:

Moving from Tier 3 to Tier 2

  • Test positivity rate ≥ 8% and below 12% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
  • Staffed ICU bed availability ≥ 20% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
  • Sustained decline in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average for 7 of 10 days)

Moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1

  • Test positivity rate between 6.5% and 8% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
  • Staffed ICU bed availability ≥ 20% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
  • No sustained increase in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average for 7 of 10 days)

Moving from Tier 1 to Phase 4

  • Test positivity rate ≤ 6.5% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
  • Staffed ICU bed availability ≥ 20% for three consecutive days (7-day average); AND
  • No sustained increase in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average for 7 of 10 days)

Information about mitigation and resurgence metrics can be found on the IDPH website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics.

Cronin

State of DuPage County

A look back with a focus on the future

The annual State of DuPage County, hosted by Chamber630 and several other west suburban chambers was held on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. The event featured a keynote address from the Honorable Dan Cronin, Chairman of the DuPage County Board. Following his address was a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges business face in 2021. Moderating the panel was Karyn Charvat of PowerForward DuPage. Ron Lunt, Hamilton Partners and Greg Bedalov from Choose DuPage also participated on the panel, along with Chairman Cronin.

Watch the event, below.

DuPage County Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine Weekly Update

DuPage County—This week, vaccination efforts in DuPage County remain focused on administering first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare personnel in Phase 1a and expanding vaccine capacity throughout the county. As of Jan. 12, 2021, approximately 33,950 vaccines have been administered to DuPage County healthcare personnel according to vaccination data provided by Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). DuPage County is currently in the top five counties for the percent of population fully vaccinated.

DuPage County, Illinois’ second-most populous county, is fortunate to have a vast medical community. There are several hospitals, outpatient medical clinics, doctors’ offices, federally qualified health centers, and congregate care centers as well as other medical personnel such as dentists, nurses, physical therapists, etc. Due to these factors, health officials expect it will take several weeks before DuPage County is ready to move into Phase 1b.

“We understand some counties throughout the State are ready to move into Phase 1b. However, here in DuPage County we remain committed to vaccinating the thousands of healthcare personnel who have signed-up to receive vaccine appointments,” stated Karen Ayala, Executive Director of DuPage County Health Department. “We ask residents for their patience as we continue to move forward in our vaccination efforts of Phase 1a. As more updates become available, this information will be shared on our website, social media channels, and weekly newsletter.”

DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) has received and distributed an average of 11,000 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines per week. Health officials are working closely with partners at all levels, including hospitals, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and community leaders to expand vaccine access and local capacity to administer vaccine in DuPage County. As vaccine supply increases and additional vaccination sites become available, the Health Department expects the rate of vaccination will increase. Additional information about DuPage County vaccine planning and related updates will be posted at www.dupagehealth.org/covid19vaccine.

DCHD COVID-19 vaccine clinics continue offering about 1,500 appointments per week for unaffiliated healthcare personnel (e.g., dentists, physical therapists, hospice workers, home health care). Healthcare personnel residing, working, or attending a college/university in DuPage County should sign-up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Weekly Update. Through this communication, the Health Department will share weekly updates and contact individuals and organizations with opportunities to schedule an appointment through DCHD or community partners as additional vaccine becomes available.

Healthcare personnel who schedule an appointment with DCHD will be required to present verification of their healthcare personnel status, i.e., employee ID badge, check stub, state licensure, or certificate at the time of their appointment. If healthcare personnel are affiliated with a health system, they are advised to contact their health system to coordinate vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination data by county is now available through the IDPH website. Data include the number of doses administered, the vaccination rate per population, and what percent of the population is fully vaccinated. It is important to note that vaccine distribution figures are reported in real-time, while vaccine administration figures are reported with as much as a 72-hour lag.

As residents wait for vaccine to be available to them, they should sign-up for our COVID-19 Vaccine Weekly Update to receive regular updates on DuPage County’s vaccination efforts. Additionally, everyone is urged to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Wearing a mask whenever outside your home or with anyone not from your household;
  • Watching your distance, staying at least 6 feet from people outside of your immediate household and avoiding in-person gatherings;
  • Washing your hands often; and
  • Staying home if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID19 or if you have been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19, and contacting your healthcare provider for appropriate evaluation, testing, and care.

DuPage County COVID-19 information and resources can be found at www.dupagehealth.org/covid19

A Safer Tomorrow: Advanced Tech is Critical to Protecting Public Health in DuPage

In 2020, many of us were forced to learn just how far a sneeze can travel. While some of us (naively) assumed that a sneeze flies no more than a few feet before harmlessly disappearing, researchers at MIT shattered our illusions with a series of unpleasant statistics. It turns out, a sneeze can travel up to 27 feet, reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. After the initial flight, droplets linger in the air for up to 10 minutes, forming a very personal kind of cloud that contains everything from bacteria to viruses, including COVID-19.

Sneezes, coughs, laughter, even just normal breathing, speaking and contact: As we learned in 2020, there is no end to the channels that a virus can take en route from one body to another. While social distancing and masks have helped mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many organizations are looking for more effective and potentially permanent solutions to protect public health—now, during the pandemic, as well as in the future.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on communities across the world, but it has also highlighted critical weaknesses in our current systems and taught us important lessons about public health. These lessons may help us prevent future pandemics and protect individuals from the viruses and bacterial infections that kill thousands, even in ‘normal’ years.

In DuPage County, organizations of all sizes are turning to innovative ideas and advanced technologies to protect the health of individuals and communities.

Mesòn Sabika is Helping Customers Breathe Easier

The food at Mesòn Sabika is fantastic. But, as anyone who has visited the Naperville restaurant knows, atmosphere is a major part of the restaurant’s appeal.

A short drive west of downtown Naperville, Mesòn is located in a 19th-Century mansion on a pristine, four-acre estate adorned in traditional Spanish décor. It’s the kind of place where you want to be. Going there and sitting on the patio with a cocktail and a plate of empanadas is an experience, not just another dinner. That’s why, in any other year, most of us would be talking about visiting Mesòn Sabika—not just grabbing takeout.

As the first wave of lockdown restrictions began to relax, the community was eager to once again enjoy the atmosphere of Mesòn Sabika, presenting the restaurant with a challenge that many businesses are now facing: How do you give your customers the experience they want, while also protecting their health (and yours)? The owners and staff at Mesòn Sabika went to great lengths to create a safer environment—spacing tables eight feet apart, reducing contact as much as possible, frequently sanitizing surfaces—but, like many of us, they had become aware of the many channels a virus can use to travel across a room, including a simple sneeze. They wanted to protect their customers and staff from any threat, even the ones they couldn’t see.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could catch a sneeze as it travels through the air and remove all the potentially harmful particles before they reach us? Mesòn Sabika discovered a device that does just that. This year, the restaurant installed a state-of-the-art air-purification system (the REME Halo) that continually purifies the air within the mansion. According to the manufacturer, the system uses an innovative zinc ionization system to reduce airborne particles, like dust and mold spores, while killing up to 99% of bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19) both in the air and on surfaces. It even ‘catches’ sneezes mid-air. By the time a sneeze travels three feet, the system will have reduced its germs by 99%.

Mesòn Sabika isn’t the only business using advanced technology to protect the health of customers and staff. All across DuPage County, this sort of solution is appearing in restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels, shops and the many other places where we gather.

Meanwhile, some DuPage organizations are not only using this technology. They’re creating it.

Sound Inc. is Creating Healthier Office Environments

If you work in marketing or web development, you may be familiar with the concept of ‘heat-mapping’, a technology that creates a ‘map’ illustrating how users have interacted with your website.

A technology company in Naperville has taken the heat-mapping concept and repurposed it to help us clean our offices more efficiently and effectively. Sound Inc.—a tech services firm specializing in audio/visual, security and connectivity for businesses—weaves together a network of technologies designed to keep employees and visitors safe as we return to the workplace. One of the systems uses thermal (heat-sensitive) cameras, motion-sensors and analytics to map the places where people frequently contact surfaces in an office, so cleaning services can focus their efforts on the places with the highest risk of transmission.

But that’s just the start. In addition to mapping high-contact areas, Sound Inc. creates systems that can automatically sound alarms when rooms have surpassed their intended capacity, scan the temperatures of visitors, send alerts when employees are lingering in high-traffic areas—such as hallways, where they’re more likely to come into contact with coworkers or visitors—and monitor policies like mask-wearing and social distancing.

“For a business owner who is worried about having their employees come back and feel safe, that first line of defense is really important,” says Brian Clark, Vice President of Sound Inc. “You want to know who is coming into your building. That concept is called ‘visitor management’, and, traditionally, most businesses don’t do it very well. But now we’re paying closer attention to who comes and goes into our workplaces.”

Beyond protecting employees and visitors from COVID-19, Brian says that his company’s technology can offer protection from other kinds of threats. For example, a system with a motion-sensor can be installed near a door to detect weapons and automatically perform background checks, in addition to reading temperatures.

Scientel Solutions is Helping Organizations Safely Return to ‘Normal’ 

Of all the strange rituals that became ‘normal’ in 2020, the act of having your temperature taken in public is among the strangest. If you have visited a doctor’s office or a restaurant in the past nine months, you probably experienced something like this: Someone in a mask approaches you, aims what looks like a plastic Marvin the Martian laser gun at your forehead, and pulls the trigger. Odd as it may seem, taking temperatures at the entrance of a high-traffic area is a good idea, as it allows businesses to turn away anyone who is feverish, a potential sign of COVID-19.

But these handheld devices have three weaknesses: 1.) Their accuracy ranges from mediocre to unusable, 2.) They require the operator to be in close proximity to multiple, potentially infected individuals, putting them at greater risk, and 3.) The process of scanning a person with a handheld device is tedious and time-consuming. It isn’t a practical solution for businesses or events with high volumes of people entering the area.

The engineers at Scientel Solutions in Aurora were frustrated with the existing temperature-reading systems—on behalf of their own business, as well as their customers’—so, they built a better machine. The Mobile Evaluation and Triage (MET) Unit, which resembles a tall, friendly robot with wheels in lieu of legs, combines several advanced technologies to overcome the weaknesses of handheld scanners.

While the MET also reads temperatures, it does so with far greater accuracy and speed than handheld scanners, while allowing operators to maintain a safe distance from the individuals they scan. At the core of the device is a retinal camera, which reads temperatures by scanning a person’s tear ducts. Sound strange? Maybe it is. But the system is incredible accurate, reading temperatures within 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit, vastly better than most scanners. It’s also fast, scanning each person within less than a second, enabling the device to process dozens of individuals per minute. If a person does have a fever, the device alerts operators—and can be integrated with other systems (for example, to automatically send a notice to security).

The MET unit is ideal for any location that may see a high volume of people—hospitals, corporate centers, municipal buildings, stadiums, airports, etc.—and can be used in conjunction with other safety measures to make events safer. Locally, Scientel has brought the MET to the City of Aurora, Kane County, Stephen Co. and Hesed House, as well as other businesses and organizations around the country.

For Nelson Santos, Founder & CEO of Scientel, technologies like the MET are an essential component of any reopening effort.

“We use the MET Unit for our own employees and all guests on a daily basis,” Nelson says. “With the help of the MET—as well as other technologies—Scientel has been able to hold events in conjunction with social distancing. We believe that we need to continue to operate as a business and function as families, all while being socially responsible given the pandemic.” 

A Safer Tomorrow

No single technology, concept or guideline will protect us from threats like COVID-19 (although, vaccines will go a long way towards solving our immediate problem).

Instead, creating a safer, healthier future for the communities of DuPage County comes down to collaboration: many minds, technologies, businesses and institutions coming together to find smart solutions to our immediate problems, while addressing our long-term challenges.

We need innovators like Scientel Solutions and Sound Inc. bringing us the devices that keep us safe; local businesses like Mesòn Sabika adopting new technologies; organizations like the College of DuPage training contact tracers; companies like Import Logistics finding creative solutions to protect our supply chain; and institutions like Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab using science to fight back against threats like COVID-19. Just as critically, we need every member of our community supporting these organizations, uplifting one another and thinking about tomorrow.

A safer future isn’t a distant possibility; it’s something we can start building right now. It’s up to every one of us to make it.

In DuPage County, our communities are tapping into high-tech solutions to create a safer tomorrow. From the labs of Argonne to the dining room of Mesòn Sabika, you can find innovation in every corner of DuPage. Learn more at ChooseDuPage.com/Ready