As DuPage reopens, Health Department offers help

Chronicle Media

The DuPage County Health Department is located on the county complex off County Farm Road in Wheaton. (Photo courtesy of DCHD)

As the DuPage County Health Department works to slow the spread of COVID-19, essential businesses—restaurants offering carryout and delivery, grocery stores, and companies that manufacture and process foods—are concerned with keeping their workers and products safe.

As the State of Illinois moves into Phase 3 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois, plan and more businesses reopen, the department’s Business Resource team will continue to provide support to both owners and employees as well as an additional level of support and expertise.

During normal operations, these businesses are familiar with the department’s Environmental Health Services unit, which is responsible for permitting and regulating over 4,000 food service facilities operating in DuPage County.

EHS Specialists (also known as sanitarians) work with local businesses to ensure the foods we eat, beverages we drink, and the buildings are safe and healthy.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 while keeping essential businesses operating is a major concern,” said Michael DeSmedt, EHS assistant director. “We quickly shifted our focus and developed the Business Resource Team to provide owners and operators the guidance they required.”

BRT team members have provided over 250 consultations with DuPage County business leaders on the topics of:

  • Protecting employees and clients from spreading disease during the pandemic;
  • Ensuring proper cleaning and disinfection with EPA-approved products;
  • Providing the current best practices on safe operations; and
  • Specific information and resources a business may need to operate safely.

“Each business receives a toolkit with detailed information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois Department of Public Health and DCHD that includes a potential exposure to COVID-19 fact sheet, an isolation and quarantine release chart, symptom monitoring log, social distancing posters and notification letter to employees,” said DeSmedt.

When it was learned COVID-19 had spread among the workforce of a large food processing plant, the Office of the Illinois Attorney General contacted DCHD to confirm the number of cases and provide technical assistance.

Typically, employees work shoulder-to-shoulder on production and packaging lines, a practice that is currently unacceptable. The company agreed to guidance that reduced its output, which allowed social distancing through staggered work shifts.

With over 90,000 business registered within DuPage County, the DCHD Business Resource Team recommends business owners and employees utilize the resources available on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity:

This information is also available on the DuPage County Health Department’s website, under Business Guidance through links back to that site. If there are questions after reviewing that information, individuals can submit those questions to the Health Department using:

The DuPage County Health Department remains committed to address the significant impact and unfortunate loss of life related to COVID-19. Our efforts continue with healthcare and community partners to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in DuPage County.