For the next couple weeks, long-range forecasts for DeKalb have temperatures in the 90s with moderate humidity.
A heat wave like that presents challenges under normal circumstances, and the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus creates some additional things to consider.
After a weekend announcement saying public cooling centers would not be open yet due to COVID-19 concerns, the City of DeKalb announced Monday three locations -- the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., Hopkins Park Community Center, 1403 Sycamore Road, and the Salvation Army, 830 Grove St. -- will be open for those in need of air conditioning to beat the heat.
Sycamore is offering the Sycamore Center, 308 W. State St. as a cooling center during business hours and the Sycamore Public Safety Building, 535 DeKalb Ave. after business hours.
The COVID-19 caveat is that residents must call ahead to see if there is availability, as each center will have capacity limits including social distancing measures and face covering requirements.
"All we're really asking is that people call ahead because if a certain facility is at max capacity, they'll have to go to a different one," said DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster. "It's really going to be up to the facility to determine how they're signing people in and out and within their occupancy. So staff members will greet the person, assure they have a face covering."
McMaster said the city may announce additional cooling centers in the coming days but the senior center won't reopen due to the pandemic.
McMaster said the fire department is still offering well-being checks. Residents are asked to call 911 to schedule a well-being check if they suspect a neighbor may be experiencing effects of extreme heat.
To locate a cooling center Monday through Friday, call 815-748-8460 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call the number and then press 9 after hours or weekends or holidays.
Andrew Weisgerber, a case manager with Hope Haven homeless shelter, 1145 Rushmoore Drive, said the shelter can accommodate up to 50 people. Social distancing guidelines of 6 feet are in effect.
Weisgerber said the facility wasn't doing intakes of any kind until two weeks ago.
"Now as long as we keep social distancing formats we can do intakes," Weisgerber said. "We can do cool offs as well as long as social distancing is implemented.
Usually with a capacity of 100, Hope Haven is capped at 50.
"We get calls from community members that they saw someone on the street that looks exhausted, and can I send them to you guys or drop them off," Weisgerber said. "It's still happening, maybe the ride thing is happening less. But people are still calling and telling us about people who look like they're suffering heat exhaustion. They can come in, cool off and get water and lunch if needed."
In a press release, the Sycamore Fire Department encouraged residents to check on elder neighbors and family members to ensure they are safe. Residents should dial 911 in am medical emergency but for those not in need of immediate medical treatment, the cooling centers are available.
Chief Peter Polarek said those utilizing the cooling centers need to wear a mask and maintain social distance, though he added historically the cooling centers are used a ton in Sycamore.
"It's an important option for people," Polarek said. "Over time we haven't had many people take advantage. There's a good support network for a lot of people here. However if people don't have options this gives them respite from the weather during the hottest part of the day."
Daily Chronicle Editor Kelsey Rettke contributed to this story.
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