A coalition of Mayors and municipal leaders in the western suburbs is working together to tackle the rising number of COVID-19 cases in their communities.
An initial brainstorming session hosted last month by Addison Mayor Richard Veenstra and the Village’s Special Projects Coordinator Anna Kubas, welcomed leaders from Bensenville, Glendale Heights and West Chicago to discuss and develop strategies which could be implemented collaboratively to mitigate the health and economic impact of the pandemic on individuals hardest hit in DuPage County.
Among those in attendance were West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda, West Chicago School District 33 Superintendent Kristina Davis, DuPage High School District 88 Superintendent Scott Helton, and Addison School District 4 Superintendent John Langton. Attendees agreed that in the short term, a targeted approach is necessary to bring down the disproportionately large number of infections and positive tests in the Latino and Hispanic populations of DuPage County. Improving the socioeconomic and health status of the four communities was identified as a long-term goal.
A coordinated program of education to slow the spread through preventative measures and testing was outlined, and various means of dissemination of materials were explored.
Contributing factors related to economic issues of unemployment, sick pay, childcare, food insecurity, and access to healthcare were discussed; as were the social, mental and educational concerns of isolation, substance abuse, domestic abuse and the need to return students to school safely.
The resulting recommendations include consistent, coordinated communications throughout partnering communities via print materials distributed at essential businesses and organizations such as supermarkets, food pantries, schools (through backpack programs), daycare facilities and other appropriate distribution points.
An enhanced literature dissemination program like the one already started in West Chicago, which provides reminders about basic health and safety measure during COVID-19 (hand-washing, social distancing, wearing face coverings), will be expanded through the support of DuPage County Health Department in each participating community.
Most notably, an education mobile staffed with bilingual volunteers, will be piloted in the Village of Addison. It will provide kits assembled by the Addison Park District Seniors Club with educational materials provided by DuPage County Health Department and practical prevention items such as masks and hand sanitizers provided by the Village free of charge. The education mobile, supported by DuPage High School District 88 and Addison School District 4, will circulate throughout various pedestrian accessible locations within the community. This program aims to remind residents of the continued threat coronavirus presents and to reach those who may not have access to the online education that will also be part of the campaign.
“The virus has no idea what boundaries are,” Pineda said recently in a Daily Herald article about his COVID-19 education campaign. “The data is worrisome, but we’re getting better. We have already put signage all over to keep reminding people — wash your hands, keep your social distance. We need to work together on this, if we want to continue dropping our numbers and making sure everybody is safe and healthy.”