By Lauren Victory

CHICAGO (CBS) — Of the 13,666 people in Illinois who have died of COVID-19 so far during the pandemic, almost half of those who passed were from long-term care facilities.

As we wait for vaccines to be distributed to those centers, CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory shares more about a technology supposedly making seniors safer in the northern suburbs.

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The Koelsches proudly shared their story in a YouTube video. Generation built on generation to create more than 30 senior living facilities across eight states, including Illinois; an American dream that hasn’t been immune to the pandemic.

“We’re in the business of taking care of people,” said Koelsch Communities chief operating officer Eva Arant.

Five people were taken by COVID at the company’s Northbrook Inn Memory Care Community. Another eight died at Waverly Inn Memory Care Community in Arlington Heights.

“It’s been a rough nine months,” Arant said.

She and her team not only have to keep visitors out, but also spirits up. Mothers Day tea, fiestas, and live music are part of the fun. It’s serious business behind the scenes.

“You mist their room basically; much like you’ve seen on the news where they show them spraying airplanes, or buses, or things of that sort,” Arant said.

Another new purchase was a disinfecting portal by Healthe Inc.

Walk through at Northbrook Inn, and voila, you’re clean.

Since COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets, how is zapping your clothing helping?

“Some of those respiratory droplets can get on surfaces of things we wear,” said Healthe chief science officer Fred Maxik.

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Maxik said his surface cleaner is meant to supplement other sanitation practices. The key is light technology called Far-UVC.

“It’s not the UV you’re told to avoid at the beach,” he said.

So is it safe for grandma? A study out of Columbia University concluded yes.

The International Ultraviolet Light Association called Far-UVC a “promising technology application,” but recommended it not be implemented until more research is done.

Still, Arant said she has no reservations about installing a Healthe Inc. disinfecting portal at the entryway at Northbrook Inn.

“Because I don’t think it’s going to hurt anything,” she said.

“The flip side of it is, if we don’t try it, we will wind up with more people sick,” Maxik said.

Something feared by families and caregivers alike.

Arant said they appreciate the additional tool in the nursing home’s COVID-fighting toolbox.

“Everything is a balance, and we wanted to give it a shot,” she said.

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The memory care facilities in our story also use temperature readers at all entrances. We shot our video from outside for safety reasons.

Lauren Victory