Posts tagged with "The Chicago Tribune"

Up against the wall: New wallcovering envelops room in luminous washes of color

May 21, 2021

If you’re looking for a way to refresh your home this spring and want to create a calm, relaxed refuge, consider a new kind of wallpaper. Founded in 2013 by Rachel and Nick Cope, Brooklyn-based Calico Wallpaper  creates atmospheric wall murals that envelop a room in luminous washes of color based on nature, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The custom fit, non-repeating wall murals evoke sunrise, sunset. and subtle landscapes wrapped in fog or water that turn a room into a serene, immersive environment.

nd they are part of a big comeback: Abandoned by designers and homeowners in the second half of the 20th century, wallpaper is making a triumphant return. In fact, one study estimates that the global market for digitally printed wallpaper, which was more than $2 billion in 2017, would reach $7.5 billion by 2026

“We continually draw inspiration from landscapes and scientific phenomena, as well as our own experimentation with art processes and materials,” said Rachel Cope, Calico co-founder and creative director. “Our Aurora collection was developed following extensive research in the art of fabric dyeing and draws upon shibori and ombre techniques. Each pattern is a study in the relationship between light, color, place and mood, and explores the emotions expressed by the ever-changing sky.”

Calico Wallpaper co-founder Nick Cope said that the designs begin as handmade artworks that are then digitized so that they can be printed to fit the specific space in which they will reside. “We began designing wallpaper to move art beyond the frame and incorporate its elements into everyday interior spaces,” he said. “Homes are sanctuaries and should feel pleasant, balanced and calming.”

This summer, Calico will launch a collection in collaboration with French designer Sam Baron called Noir, based on artist Pierre Soulages’ exploration of the reflection of light off the surface of his black monochrome paintings.

See the full range of Calico wallpapers at calicowallpaper.com.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Waste is a terrible thing to waste: Ikea’s glossy (and free) new cookbook puts food scraps on the menu

April 6, 2021

Summery corncob soup, ‘plantcakes’ made with broccoli and carrot greens, and corn husk smoked chicken with fried corn silk are just a few of the inventive recipes in Ikea’s “The Scraps Book”—a cookbook dedicated to food preparation with the little things we usually throw away, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The Swedish home design brand collaborated with ten renowned chefs to address food waste and to show how easy it is to use food scraps like kale stems, banana peels and spent coffee grounds to create show-stopping meals. The beautifully designed ebook is full of stunning food photos of the 50 easy-to-follow recipes, along with tips like how to build your own backyard compost.

According to a Food and Drug Administration report, food waste is estimated at between 30% and 40% of the food supply in the United States, and the report lists wasted food as the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills.

In 2016, the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency announced the formation of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions group and set a goal of reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030, the Tribune notes.

.“ScrapsBook” is free for download at Apple Books, Google Play, and Ikea.com. The eBook is available to everyone, and Ikea Family members will be automatically entered to win a limited edition hardcover copy of the 214-page book. As Ikea says, “Waste is a terrible thing to waste”

Research contact: @chicagotribune

U.S. pharmacies to receive 1 million vaccine doses from Biden Administration next week

February 4, 2021

President Joe Biden will free up more doses of COVID vaccine for anxious Americans, his administration announced on February 2. The doses will be available at retail pharmacies nationwide by next week, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The push comes amid new urgency to speed vaccinations to the public, to prevent the spread of potentially more serious strains of the virus that has killed more than 445,000 Americans since the beginning of 2020.

Starting next week, 1 million doses will be distributed to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country, the White House said. The administration is also boosting by 500,000 the weekly allocation of vaccines sent directly to states and territories for the coming weeks, up to 10.5 million. It is allowing state and local governments to receive additional federal dollars to cover previously incurred expenses relating to the pandemic.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients announced the moves on a call with the nation’s governors Tuesday morning and then detailed them to the public in an afternoon news conference.

Drugstores have become a linchpin in the U.S. infrastructure for dispensing flu shots and shingles vaccines—and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly. “This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” Zients said.

“This is a critical step to provide the public with convenient trusted places to get vaccinated in their communities,” he adde, according to the Tribune.

The number of participating pharmacies and the availability of vaccines  are expected to accelerate as drug makers increase production. The White House said the ultimate goal was to distribute the vaccines through more than 40,000 pharmacies nationwide. State and local guidelines will determine who is eligible to get a shot at their neighborhood pharmacy. Availability will be limited at first.

“Getting it into pharmacies is a viable approach,” Dan Mendelson, founder of the health care industry consulting firm Avalere Health told the Tribune. “The pharmacies know how to move people in and out.”

Participating are major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, big box stores such as Walmart and Costco, and supermarket pharmacies. CVS said it will receive 250,000 doses initially, to be distributed to pharmacies in 11 states.

The pharmacy doses will be distributed to states by population, but a priority will be to get the vaccine to minority communities that have suffered a disproportionately high toll of disease and deaths from the virus, Zients said.

Walgreens said it was selected in part to “optimize vaccine access in medically underserved areas.”

The 1 million doses being shipped to pharmacies will be on top of the increased allotments to states over the coming three weeks.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

The great giveback: Retailers team up with FedEx, UPS, Whole Foods to make returns easier

December 29, 2020

Retailers and logistics companies have struggled to get shoppers’ holiday gifts delivered on time. Now, they’re gearing up for what’s expected to be a brutal season for unwanted, returnable goods headed back in their direction, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Following a coronavirus pandemic-fueled surge in online sales, up to $70.5 billion worth of online holiday purchases are expected to be returned—up from $42 billion last year—according to a forecast from commercial real estate brokerage CBRE.

Many retailers that encouraged people to start their holiday shopping early also have extended their return deadlines this holiday season—and have tried to make it easier, once you get in the vicinity of the store, to get your money back. Still, the Tribune reports, returns aren’t as seamless as clicking “buy” online—and most merchants don’t offer contact-free options that enable consumers to stay in the car during the return transaction.

It’s not just because people are buying more gifts online. It’s because there are more people shopping online, including some who typically prefer to shop in person and aren’t accustomed to buying online,  Steve Osburn, managing director of Retail Strategy at Accenture, told the Chicago-based news outlet.

.Shoppers also admit that they’re now more likely to buy the same item in multiple sizes; then, keep the one that fits. About 62% of U.S. shoppers said they “bracketed” purchases, up from 48% last year, often because they gained or lost weight or were shopping at a new store and weren’t sure what size to pick, according to a September survey by Narvar, a company that helps retailers manage returns.

Retailers prefer shoppers return items in stores rather than ship them back because they can get items back on shelves more quickly, Osburn said.

But this year, the desire to avoid unnecessary trips to stores could push more people to seek mail-in options. About 30% of consumers surveyed by Narvar said it was easier to ship items back, up from 25% last year.

Walmart this week announced that FedEx will pick up returns at customers’ homes. Customers still need to pack items for shipment, which can be tougher when people are working from home without access to a printer to print the shipping label, but the service is free for items shipped and sold by Walmart.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced customers can return items at 500 Whole Foods Market stores without a box or shipping label. Amazon already had a returns partnership with Kohl’s. Amazon shoppers also can return items at UPS locations, in some cases without packing them up.

Returns service Happy Returns partnered with FedEx this fall to let shoppers return items from brands like Everlane, Rothy’s and Steve Madden at 2,000 FedEx locations with no box or shipping label.

Happy Returns previously had about 600 locations, which were mostly at malls and retailers like Paper Source and CostPlus World Market. The new FedEx locations adds convenience while making the service “COVID-proof” since FedEx is an essential business that will stay open, CEO David Sobie told the Tribune.

And, as return drop-off options have expanded, use has grown. Nearly 30% of shoppers surveyed by Narvar in September said they had taken their most recent return to a designated drop-off location like a pharmacy or another retailer’s store, up from 16% last year. About 35% of shoppers took their return to a carrier to mail back and 12% returned their item to the retailer’s store.

Some retailers are also trying to streamline traditional store returns.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will let customers return items through curbside pickup, as long as the purchase was made with a credit or debit card. Others say shoppers must come inside to make a return, though Narvar CEO Amit Sharma said he expects more retailers to announce curbside returns in January.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

A flying start: United Airlines gets first Boeing 737 Max to be delivered in 21 months, as troubled jet returns to skies

December 10, 2020

On December 8, Boeing delivered its first 737 Max in 21 months—the first since the Federal Aviation Administration ungrounded the jet last month, The Chicago Tribune reports.

United Airlines Flight 2703 took off from Boeing Field—officially, King County International Airport, five miles south of downtown Seattle—at about 2:30 p.m. (PST), made a check flight toward eastern Washington; then, looped back and arrived at the gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 90 minutes later.

The airline will make some modifications to the plane at Sea-Tac, the Tribune notes—and it is expected to depart for United’s hub in Houston by the end of the week.

This makes United one of the first U.S. air carriers to take delivery on a 737 Max, since two Boeing flights crashed—one on October 29, 2018 moments after takeoff from Indonesia, killing 189 people; and on March 10, 2019, just after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing 157 people.

Since then, the fatal crashes have been attributed to a software error in the Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, and have been grounded globally until very recently.

However, United is not the only carrier that is abetting the Boeing comeback: American Airlines has the earliest start date of any U.S. airline for the aircraft—with December 29 seeing the first scheduled flights, more than a month following the FAA’s return-to-service decision. The jet will fly first between Miami and New York before expanding up and down the East Coast and to the Caribbean from American’s 737 Max base in Miami.

Alaska Airlines also is said to have an order in for 13 news 737 Max aircraft, to be delivered in fourth quarter 2021.

According to the Tribune, United won’t fly any passengers on the Max yet. It doesn’t plan to have the jet enter scheduled service until the first quarter of 2021, probably in February.

United pilots will be trained to fly the Max on the airline’s flight simulators in Denver. Once passenger service begins, United will deploy its Maxes from the Denver and Houston hubs.

“As we begin receiving 737 Max deliveries from Boeing, we will inspect every aircraft, require our pilots to undergo additional training reviewed and approved by the FAA, and conduct test flights before we bring these aircraft back into service,” said United spokesperson Frank Benenati.

He said the airline will share a more specific schedule with the public and employees soon.

It remains to be seen whether passengers and crew will be willing to board the new aircraft.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

On Safe Harbor Day, America’s presidential votes are locked in by states and guaranteed by Congress

December 9, 2020

Tuesday, December 8, is Safe Harbor Day—the day when all 50 states are expected to lock in their electoral votes—both by finishing up certification of the results and by resolving any state court legal challenges.

According to a report by The Chicago Tribune, by the end of the day, every state, with the exception of Wisconsin, is expected to have made its election results official.

The purpose of the safe harbor deadline is to serve as a guarantee of the election results by Congress. NBC News notes that, “If, for example, a state legislature decided to send in its own slate, the law says the electors chosen by popular vote and certified by the governor must be counted by Congress from states that met the safe harbor deadline.”

Other than Wisconsin, where a hearing is scheduled later this week, every state appears to have met a deadline in federal law that essentially means Congress has to accept the electoral votes that will be cast next week and sent to the Capitol for counting on January 6.

“What federal law requires is that if a state has completed its post-election certification by December 8, Congress is required to accept those results,” Rebecca Green, an election law professor at the William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, told the Tribune.

The Electoral College is a creation of the Constitution, but Congress sets the date for federal elections and, in the case of the presidency, determines when presidential electors gather in state capitals to vote.

The attention paid to the normally obscure safe harbor provision is a function of Trump’s unrelenting efforts to challenge the legitimacy of the election. He has refused to concede, made unsupported claims of fraud and called on Republican lawmakers in key states to appoint electors who would vote for him even after those states have certified a Biden win.

But Trump’s arguments have gone nowhere in court in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Most of his campaign’s lawsuits in state courts challenging those Biden victories have been dismissed, with the exception of Wisconsin.

Like the others, the lawsuit does not appear to have much chance of succeeding, but because it was filed in accordance with state law procedures for challenging election results, “it’s looking to me like Wisconsin is going to miss the safe harbor deadline because of that,” said Edward Foley, a professor of election law at Ohio State University’s Moritz School of Law.

Judge Stephen Simanek, appointed to hear the case, has acknowledged that the case would push the state outside the electoral vote safe harbor.

Missing the deadline won’t deprive Wisconsin of its 10 electoral votes. Biden electors still will meet in Madison on Monday to cast their votes and there’s no reason to expect that Congress won’t accept them. In any case, Biden would still have more than the 270 votes he needs even without Wisconsin’s.

But lawmakers in Washington could theoretically second-guess the slate of electors from any state that misses the December 8 deadline, Foley said.

Already, the Tribune notes, one member of the House of Representatives, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), has said he will mount a last-ditch effort for Trump—challenging electoral votes for Biden on January 6. Brooks would need to object in writing and be joined by at least one senator. If that were to happen, both chambers would debate the objections and vote on whether to sustain them.

But unless both houses agreed to the objections, they would fail.

The unwillingness of Trump and his supporters to concede is “dangerous because in an electoral competition, one side wins, one side loses and it’s essential that the losing side accepts the winner’s victory. What is really being challenged right now is our capacity to play by those rules,” Foley said.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

The morning after: Biden captures slim lead—but races too close to call

November 5, 2020

With the presidential election too close to call—and not all mail-in ballots yet counted nationwide—all eyes were focused on Wednesday morning, November 4, on Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three northern industrial states that likely will prove crucial in determining who wins the White House, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Indeed, by early Wednesday, neither candidate had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the Oval Office. And as votes continued to trickle in, it’s possible the American people could be hours or even days away from knowing who will lead their nation.

Michigan and Wisconsin turned the lightest shade of blue on results maps later Wednesday morning, with outstanding vote still to count in those states. The same is true of Nevada. Georgia and North Carolina—states in which Trump is narrowly leading, which also have outstanding votes.

It could be several days before Pennsylvania, where Trump currently leads, finishes counting mail ballots—which are thought to significantly favor Biden.

The Biden campaign is signaling confidence that they will meet the 270 mark in the coming days, but there is simply too much uncertainty at the moment to clearly predict a winner, and the cloud of litigation hangs over the entire proceeding.

Four years after Trump became the first Republican in a generation to capture that trio of “Rust Belt” states, they again are positioned to make or break a presidential election. Trump kept several states he won in 2016 that had seemed wobbly in the final days of the campaign—including Texas, Iowa and Ohio—where the Biden camp made a play.

Trump cried foul over the election results, falsely calling the process “a major fraud on our nation.” But, the Tribune notes, there’s no evidence of foul play in the cliffhanger.

The president had vowed to take the election to the Supreme Court, and received criticism from conservative pundits after making his comments. The Biden campaign said it would fight any such efforts to stop the counting of votes.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Trump’s Goodyear boycott shows how political and social tensions can flare over workplace attire

August 21, 2020

On August 19, President Donald Trump urged Americans nationwide to boycott Akron, Ohio-based Goodyeartweeting, “Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS.”

The tire company said there was no specific ban, but it had asked employees to refrain from some workplaces expressions that might inflame political and social discourse at work.  

And Goodyear is not the only American business that is trying to stop divisive debates in the workplace. Even as companies declare support for the Black Lives Matter movement, some are not allowing employees to wear masks or other attire that expresses solidarity with the cause, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Employees have pushed back against what they say is an attempt to silence them—staging protests at Whole Foods, denouncing Trader Joe’s on Twitter, calling for boycotts of Taco Bell and Starbucks—while their employers defend the restrictions as a matter of dress code.

Alrady, there have been attire-related incidents: On Long Island, New York, a Target customer was asked to leave after confronting an employee wearing a Black Lives Matter mask and asking if she didn’t think all lives matter, according to news reports describing the June 25 incident.

Employers, reluctant to alienate customers or employees, may hope banning personal statements across the board will keep conflict at bay. But they must consider the legal ramifications of restricting certain forms of expression, and the cost of bad publicity and poor employee morale, the Tribune notes.

“This is definitely a challenge employers are going to face, if not now it is likely they will face it in future,”  Lauren Novak, an attorney with Schiff Hardin in Chicago who represents employers in labor and employment cases, told the news outlet.

.In the Chicago suburbs, a Costco employee told the Tribune that she wore a Black Lives Matter mask to work after hearing about managers making racially insensitive comments to other employees at the warehouse. After working two shifts with the mask, the employee was called into a manager’s office in late June and told to stop wearing it because it was “political,” “controversial” and “disruptive,” the employee told the Tribune.

In a silent protest in the days that followed, the employee, who is Black, said she arrived at work wearing the mask, made sure people were watching, and flipped it inside out upon clocking in.

“For so long we have been taught that we cannot speak out against an unjust system that affects every aspect of our life,” said the employee, who has worked at Costco for more than a decade and asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “We are supposed to shut up and take it.”

Cellphone photos of Costco’s employee handbook that the employee provided to the Tribune show its dress code says only that employees must be “neat, clean and professional.” People identifying themselves as Costco employees have posted pictures of themselves on Facebook wearing attire at work that celebrates LGBTQ pride.

Costco declined a request from The Chicago Tribune to comment or answer a list of written questions.

Last week, the Chicago-area employee said she was given permission to wear a mask depicting a raised fist as long as it doesn’t include words. The employee plans to make more such masks to distribute to co-workers who want them.

Private employers have the right to regulate what employees wear to work. But restricting some forms of expression could risk violating labor or employment law.

Employers should consider whether employees are wearing Black Lives Matter masks to protest racially discriminatory working conditions, which could be considered protected, concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act, Novak said.

Employers also could face allegations of discrimination or creating a hostile work environment if the dress code policy isn’t consistently enforced and disadvantages people based on race or another protected class, said Fern Trevino, an employment lawyer in Chicago who represents workers.

They could run into issues if attire celebrating LGBTQ pride is permitted but Black Lives Matter is not.

“Employers should inform employees of the dress code policy in writing and should assure the policy is consistently and equitably enforced,” Trevino said.

Some companies have responded to public pressure—and some have not.

Taco Bell apologized after an Ohio employee who declined to remove his Black Lives Matter mask was fired from a franchised restaurant, saying “we believe the Black Lives Matter movement is a human rights issue and not a political one.” The fast-food chain told USA Today that it doesn’t prohibit the wearing of such masks and is working to clarify its policies.

However, Whole Foods says that “in order to operate in a customer-focused environment,” employees must comply with its long-standing dress code prohibiting clothing with visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising that are not company-related. It provides face masks to employees if theirs don’t comply.

Whole Foods, which sent home two New Hampshire employees for wearing Black Lives Matter and “I Can’t Breathe” masks, has seen protests in Massachusetts, Philadelphia and Seattle over the issue.

A central concern for employers is that allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter apparel will provoke other employees to don All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter—or other potentially divisive slogans, Novak said.

It’s a “woke” world we’re living in now: Employers will have to decide whether they will take a stance against those viewpoints, she said.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Trump Administration plots crackdown by Feds in Democrat-managed cities nationwide

July 22, 2020

The crackdown by federal law enforcement in some American cities is about to ramp up and go national, according to interviews by The Daily Beast with “knowledgeable Trump Administration sources.”

The move is President Donald Trump’s latest effort to use Customs and Border Protection officials, as well as the Department of Homeland Security—an agency created after 9/11 to protect the country from terrorism—to intimidate and remove protesters, without the approval of local or state authorities.

What’s more, both The Daily Beast and Fox News noted, Portland and Kansas City were just the beginning.

Among the list of cities— “all run by liberal Democrats”—in which the president said on July 20 he intends to “quell protests” are New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Oakland, and Detroit.

As previewed by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows over the weekend and President Donald Trump on July 20, the Administration intends to send federal law enforcement into Democrat-run cities—whether those cities want federal police help or not. Multiple sources expected Chicago, a flashpoint of white anxiety, to be a focus, as the Chicago Tribune first reported.

Indeed, it is rumored a force of 150 DHS agents will be deployed to Chicago this coming weekend.

In Portland, Customs and Border Protection agents, kitted out in military-style camouflage uniforms and obscured insignia, detained unarmed and largely peaceful protesters in unmarked vans and used pepper spray, tear gas, and batons against them. Oregon’s governor, both of its U.S. senators, and Portland’s mayor have denounced the federal deployment as an unwanted escalation. Its attorney general has sued DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service.

“What is happening in Portland—armed occupation by federal agents—is totally unacceptable,” Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) told The Daily Beast. “Donald Trump’s unconstitutional test run in Portland cannot be the precursor to a nationwide invasion of cities across the country. Republicans and officials at DOJ and DHS need to think long and hard about whether they want to be party to this gross abuse of power.”

Wyden and his fellow Oregonian in the Senate, Democrat Jeff Merkley, on Monday introduced an amendment to the annual defense authorization to disallow the federal law-enforcement deployment. Their amendment, supported by Oregon Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, restricts federal efforts at crowd control to the “immediate vicinity” of federal property unless requested by local authorities and bans the use of unmarked vehicles or obscured insignia.

According to The Daily Beast, “Trump’s full-on embrace of this type of election-year posturing came after a brief period earlier this summer when the president flirted with emphasizing supposed police reform and related criminal-justice matters, in his increasingly uphill fight against presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Naturally, Trump quickly grew bored with playing the role of reformer.”

These days, his campaign is sounding a different tune. “Many presidents have used the military to stop riots, so this is nothing new and in accordance with the law,” said longtime New Hampshire State Representative Al Baldasaro, the New Hampshire co-chair of Trump 2020. “Our police have taken a beating, and they don’t deserve this. I fully support what President Trump is doing,” he continued, adding that Trump should quickly send “federal help” to other cities such as “Chicago [and] Detroit.”

In Chicago, where police reactions to Black Lives Matter protests have been violent, a Fraternal Order of Police president requested Trump’s assistance. That move drew strong rebuke from local elected officials. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, often the subject of ire from the protesters, has said she doesn’t want outside federal law enforcement assistance.

“We don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully. That’s not what we need,” Lightfoot said Monday. 

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Keeping a cool head: Some companies are making safe summer face masks without a ‘sweat factor’

July 7, 2020

As a pastry chef who spends her workdays in a surgical-style mask next to hot ovens, Leigh Omilinsky is no stranger to the face mask “sweat factor”—and she has little patience for those griping about the sticky irritation of covering up during a steamy Chicago summer.

 “This has to be more comfortable than a ventilator,” Omilinsky, 35, of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, recently told The Chicago Tribune.

When health officials began recommending that people wear masks in public places to slow the spread of COVID-19, they turned to whatever was available, be it a hand-sewn fabric mask, cut up T-shirt, or winter balaclava. Now they’re often required, in places where social distancing is a challenge. As Illinoisans cautiously return to more activities put on hold during the pandemic, some are looking for masks that are tolerable for more than a quick grocery run.

Big brands like Under Armour, New Balance, and Uniqlo have announced designs using breathable fabrics, and Chicago mask-makers are experimenting with new styles as well.

There’s no magic bullet, the Tribune points out: Things that make a mask effective at containing droplets that can spread the virus causing COVID-19, like multiple layers of tightly woven fabrics, also tend to make them steamy on hot, humid days. Still, a mask that’s comfortable enough to keep on your face is more effective than one that spends most of its time dangling under your chin, experts said.

“That’s the Catch-22,” said Alan Spaeth, co-founder of Chicago-based PrideMasks. “You make it lighter and more breathable, and it’s not doing its job, which is keeping your particulates close to your face.”

While the Illinois Department of Public Health advises using a cloth face covering, the agency does not specify the type of material. It recommends that the mask be breathable while covering the wearer’s nose and mouth; fit snugly and comfortably against the side of the wearer’s face; and have multiple layers of fabric.

PrideMasks opted for a two-layer design with an inner layer of cotton and an outer layer of athletic microfiber fabric to help control moisture, Spaeth said. PrideMasks also started selling neck gaiters, and both styles offer sun protection.

Mr. Pink’s—a mask-making offshoot of Chicago-based Bangtel, which rents properties in Chicago and New York for vacations and bachelorette parties—originally designed a mask with three layers of fabric and a pocket for a filter. It’s still the most popular, but Mr. Pink’s is constantly experimenting, said owner and founder Liz Klafeta.

There’s also a two-layer option for people worried about overheating. Another has a stiff outer layer that stands away from the wearer’s face, keeping fabric off their mouth. Customers can choose between masks that loop around their ears or tie behind the head. Some styles also offer a choice between an all-cotton mask or one with an inner flannel layer that’s softer against the skin.

Soon Mr. Pink’s will carry a see-through mask with a clear vinyl window along with a line of bachelorette and wedding-themed masks.

“We’ll do it for as long as people need it or are requesting them,” Klafeta told the Tribune. “It feels good to be doing something a little different that can bring a smile to people’s faces.”

Companies also are adding sizes. Chicago-based menswear maker The Tie Bar, which makes a two-layer, all-cotton mask with room for a filter, added kids’ sizes and an extra-large size after hearing from men who grew “big COVID beards,” said CEO Allyson Lewis.

That said, finding masks breathable enough to wear while working out can be more of a challenge. Chicago requires people wear masks while exercising at indoor gyms. Even for those running outdoors, keeping faces covered on sidewalks and trails where people could encounter others is smart as a safety measure and show of respect, said Chicago Area Runners Association Executive Director Greg Hipp.

Many runners use neck gaiters that can be worn around the neck for easier breathing when a runner is alone, or pulled up over the mouth and nose when others are near, Hipp said.

Under Armour said its “Sportsmask,” designed for athletes, sold out within an hour when it was introduced in June. The mask has structured fabric designed to sit off the wearer’s mouth and nose for better airflow. There are three layers; the one that sits closest to the skin has an anti-microbial treatment and is designed to feel cool.

The company worked with health experts when designing a mask for workers in hospitals near its Maryland headquarters, and used what it learned to make the Sportsmask, according to Kyle Blakely, Under Armour’s vice president of Materials Innovation.

Another athletic brand, New Balance, has said it plans to sell an “athletics-ready face mask” in the coming weeks.

But you pay for what you get: Higher-tech masks can come with a higher price tag. Under Armour’s Sportsmask is $30 — the same price The Tie Bar charges for a pack of five. Masks from Zensah and PrideMasks cost $18 and $15, respectively. Gap sells three-packs for $15.

Research contact: @chicagotribune