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Local

Area businesses talk about dealing with COVID-19 pandemic

Part of discussion hosted by St. Charles Chamber of Commerce's Stronger Together: Business and Economic Revival Committee

ST. CHARLES – Last year, St. Charles-based Vertex Resource Group moved forward on an initiative to make it easier for its employees to work from home.

That initiative turned out to be a blessing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It became pretty easy for everybody, once we closed the offices, to work from home seamlessly," Vertex Resource Group President Jeff Kubus said. "Most of our people are still working from home. It's a strange new world, in terms of how we do business today versus how we did business in December or even January. But it's been a good thing and I think as we enhance this, it's going to make our life much, much easier going forward."

Kubus is a member of the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce's Stronger Together: Business and Economic Revival Committee, which on June 25 hosted a Zoom webinar and panel discussion on the business challenges that they have discussed over the course of the last couple months.

During the conversation, St. Charles Arts Council Executive Director Kathy Hill talked about the innovation being used in coming up with solutions to problems.

"I met a friend at a restaurant in St. Charles and the menu went on to my phone so that you didn't have to touch the menu," Hill said. "That's something that wouldn't have happened had this not occurred."

Committee members Lourdes (Lulu) Blacksmith, managing director of community engagement and legislative affairs for Elgin Community College, said the pandemic has reminded companies of the importance of reviewing policies.

"Do you have a policy on safety? Do you have a policy on working remotely?" she asked. "I don't think a lot of us were prepared for what we have been going through."

Michael Isaacson, assistant director of community heath at the Kane County Health Department, took note of the declining number of COVD-19 cases in Illinois, which has allowed the state to move into phase 4 of Gov. JB Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan.

At the same time, he said residents still need to follow health guidelines like wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing.

"In Illinois, we've done a great job and our cases have fallen pretty steeply, which is great," Isaacson said. "But what we are seeing around the country are places that have opened up and people are getting a little bit lax in their behavior and we're seeing cases go back really quickly. So I have tempered optimism. There's no reason why we can't open up and get people back to work, but we just need to make sure that we are using the appropriate interventions, making sure that people are wearing masks and making sure there is appropriate social distancing."

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