COVID-19 Resource Guide

UPDATE: Thoughts from a public health professional —

On Thursday, April 30th, we hosted a discussion with Dr. Ramsey Ellis to learn more about COVID-19, the current thinking on the virus amongst public health experts, and to discuss tips for keeping our families healthy.

Key facts about this virus:

  • Researchers estimate that 25-50% of those infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic
  • On average, every COVID-19 positive person will pass the virus on to 2-3 others
  • COVID-19 has a roughly 20% hospitalization rate compared to just 1% with influenza, or the common flu
  • Stay home. Period. And if you can’t, make sure to use the proper PPE. As of today, May 1st, we are required to wear a face mask in public places where social distancing is impossible.
  • COVID-19 is transmitted, largely, through respiratory droplets, moisture that we exhale in breathing, coughing or sneezing. 
  • PPE only works when used properly. When using a mask or gloves, you should always consider the front of the mask and the outer layer of your gloves to be contaminated. Refrain from touching your mask again until you take off your face. Watch this video here for proper use tutorial. 
  • For paper mask reuse, take the mask off by the ear loops, place into a paper bag and let it sit for three days. Cloth masks can be sanitized in the laundry. 
  • The most common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, diarrhea, chest tightness, muscle aches (particularly along the spine), skin rashes. If you are displaying any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact a healthcare practitioner. You can complete a free online screening here.
  • If you are experiencing unusual shortness of breath, or severe symptoms, do not hesitate to visit emergency services

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While we navigate the crisis of COVID-19, it is imperative that we listen to Governor Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and health officials. And it is important that we consider the health of our society as a whole as we all make temporary changes to our day-to-day lives. Our team has compiled a resource guide below with resources on accessing food, senior services, health care, housing assistance, unemployment insurance, how to help small businesses, immigration services, legal aid, activities for children, and how you can help our community during this pandemic.

This won’t be easy, and we will all have to sacrifice, but we can get through this together. Together, we are strong.

Resource Guide

For more information on coronavirus, please consult the CDC website here.

Additional background information:

FOOD

The Greater Chicago Food Depository is operating over 400 food distribution sites across greater Chicagoland. Look here for locations, times and more information.

Casa Catalina Basic Human Needs Center (4537 S. Ashland Ave, Chicago): Catholic Charities food pantry serving Back of the Yards and surrounding neighborhoods since 1990. Currently open and distributing pre-packed bags of food; requesting donations of frozen meat and nonperishable food items. No clothing please. Hours are Tuesday 9:30-11:30a and 1:00-3:00p, Wednesday 1:00-5:30p, Thursday 10:00-11:30a and 1:00-3:00p. Se habla español. First-come, first-served.

Closed Loop Farms at The Plant has launched an online store to bring the farmers’ market to your door, offering home delivery of local food products made and grown in Back of the Yards at The Plant and beyond. In addition to Closed Loop, which grows microgreens, participating businesses currently include Mint Creek Farm (beef, turkey), Timberfeast (duck), Bike a Bee (honey), Tuanis Chocolate, Xoca (fruit sodas), Pleasant House Pub (savory pies), Kombuchade (kombucha), and First Curve Apothecary (tinctures).  Orders are handled by a team well-versed in safe food handling practices; direct delivery without need for a third-party service adds reassurance that orders are safely fulfilled.

Greater Bridgeport Mutual Aid, a network of neighbors and volunteers, is providing grocery and supply drop off, connections to hyper-local resources, and check-ins. To request aid, check here.

Chicago Public Schools are open Monday through Friday, 9:00a-1:00p, to provide meals to every person under 18 years old. If families have trouble getting to a site, they can call the contact number 773-553-KIDS or email [email protected] to make a request for food delivery.

SENIOR SERVICES

Area supermarkets are operating dedicated hours for seniors to shop without crowds. You can find senior hours for all participating stores here.

Local grocery stores may also offer their own hours for seniors to shop without crowds.

There are also grocery delivery services including Instacart and PostMates in addition to local grocery store delivery.

For neighbors who need help affording groceries/Meals on Wheels programs

  • In Chicago, people 60 and up should call 312-744-4016
  • In Suburban Cook County, people 60 and up should call 847-383-0258
    • You can also connect with Aging Care Connections at 708-354-1323 to connect with resources in the area.
  • In Will County, people 60 and up should call 815-740-4225 or consult here for more information
  • In DuPage County, people 60 and up should sign up online here
  • The Greater Chicago Food Depository operates over 400 pickup locations in the greater Chicago area. For locations and hours of operation call 773-247-3663.

HEALTH

Pharmacy Resources

Walgreens, Osco, and CVS locations are delivering prescription medication for free to those who need assistance. Other pharmacies may have similar arrangements.

The following local pharmacies also offer delivery of prescription medications; some on the list also deliver over-the-counter supplies (although most require a prescription for delivery). Most require a few days’ notice to schedule deliveries.

  • Back of the Yards: 47th Street Pharmacy, 1837 W. 47th St. (773) 847-6160. Delivery of prescription medications as well as over-the-counter supplies.
  • Bridgeport: Bridgeport Pharmacy, 3201 S. Wallace St. (312) 791-9000. Delivery of prescription medications to patients.
  • Gage Park/West Elsdon: Careplus Discount Pharmacy, 4255 W. 63rd St. (773) 424-4262. Delivery of prescription medications as well as over-the-counter supplies. 
  • Elsdon Medical Pharmacy, 4254 W. 55th St. (773) 582-2660. Delivery of prescription medications to patients.

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. For mental health resources, check here

For local mental health resources, please check the National Alliance for Mental Illnes (NAMI), here.

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster. Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing. For more information on self-care and emotional health, check here.

CareLink

Cook County Health (CCH) system treats undocumented people living within Cook County, which includes the City of Chicago. CCH is a public health system with a strong charity program called CareLink, for people who are uninsured or undersinsured, including undocumented immigrants. 

CareLink is accepted in all health clinics and hospitals within CCH. Those with CareLink do not have to worry about any medical bills.

Check here for a list of CCH hospitals and primary care clinics. For billing and insurance questions, check here.

Charity Care/Hospital Financial Assistance

All public hospitals in Illinois are required to offer financial assistance to uninsured individuals who meet certain income requirements. If you are an uninsured Illinois resident and meet the income eligibility guidelines, you can apply for financial assistance for free or discounted care based on family size and income. Hospitals’ financial assistance programs may apply only to the hospital charges.

Patient must:

  • Be uninsured
  • Live in Illinois
  • Have an income 200% federal poverty level or below 
  • Have applied for any discount or programs that they may be eligible for (such as Medicaid, etc)
  • Received medically necessary health care services exceeding $300 in any one inpatient admission or outpatient encounter

Access Living has put together an entire resource guide for people with disabilities and those who are immuno-compromised to get through COVID-19. To view their guide, check here.

HOUSING, HOMEOWNERS, AND RENTERS

Many folks either lost jobs or can not work due to illness right now and are worried about paying bills. 

You can find information about rental assistance below.

Mortgage relief may be available through the federal government. For more information and applying, check the article here.

Housing assistance and shelters are available as well:

  • MorningStar Mission Ministries’ Shelter in Joliet is accepting women and families. Call for more information at 815-722-5780.
  • Metropolitan Family Services is accepting people in its domestic violence shelter and also has a 24-hour domestic violence hotline
  • Housing Action Illinois does not provide direct assistance to people looking for affordable housing, but they have a full resource guide available on their website.
  • To find a homeless shelter near you, check here.

For domestic violence survivors

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached by calling 800-799-7233, or 800-799-7233 for TTY, by texting LOVEIS to 22522, or by chatting on its website. The hotline’s website also has a post with suggestions for survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additional resources:

Additional information on housing

  • No court orders for eviction or foreclosure will be entered in Cook County through April 15. 
  • ShelterList provides a directory of shelters for the homeless, though it does not appear to have information about how the shelters are responding to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Utilities and Debt

Chicago’s COVID-19 website includes brief information about payment/debt relief. Here are the details:

  • Utility bills for Chicago residents are now due April 30 (though a more permanent utility relief program has been put on hold). ComEd has announced it is suspending electricity disconnections due to unpaid bills and waiving late charges through at least May 1. Peoples Gas has an existing moratorium on service disconnections in winter, but it is also waiving late charges through May 1. 
  • Water shutoffs due to unpaid bills were stopped in Chicago last year after an APM Reports investigation of rising water rates. 
  • Comcast is offering new customers in its service areas sixty days of free Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to qualified low-income households for $9.95/month, and increasing the Internet speed of the service going forward. Along with many other nationwide telecom companies, Comcast will also not disconnect internet service or charge late fees until mid-May, though customers may need to contact the company to say they can’t pay their bills at this time. 
  • The City of Chicago will stop all debt collection (including pausing late fees and stopping interest from accruing), booting, and impounding, except for public safety issues,  through at least April 30. Mayor Lori Lightfoot had announced on March 18 that ticketing would be limited to public safety issues as well, but after Chicagoans were ticketed anyway, Lightfoot’s administration clarified to Block Club Chicago on March 24 that “there are no plans to suspend issuing tickets for expired meters.” City sticker and expired license plate violations should still not be ticketed until April 30.

Many other municipalities have suspended water shutoffs and may be offering assistance as well. For more information, please get in touch directly with your municipality.

UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

Unemployment benefits may be available to those whose job loss is attributed to COVID-19 through the State of Illinois. To seek more information and apply, click here.

Brave Space Alliance (773) 333-5199), offers virtual assistance for those applying for unemployment and other benefits.

Legal Aid Chicago, which provides free legal assistance in civil cases to Cook County residents living in poverty, has compiled an FAQ on paid sick leave. People who work for a Chicago or Cook County employer may be eligible for paid sick leave under the Chicago Paid Sick Leave and Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinances.

Still, some companies are hiring workers to keep up with demand. Check any of these companies below for opportunities.

The CDC Foundation is also hiring emergency staff in communities to respond and build local infrastructure and response capacity.

Assistance for domestic workers

National Domestic Workers Alliance is starting a Coronavirus Care Fund and also has a resource hub with other info for domestic workers. If you are a domestic worker, you can text RELIEF to 97779 to get updates from NDWA.

Assistance for hospitality workers

Assistance for union workers

The Chicago Federation of Labor is providing funds directly to union workers who lost their job due to COVID-19. They are providing essential resources to the individuals and households who are most impacted by the COVID epidemic such as emergency food, basic supplies, rent and mortgage assistance, utility assistance, and other costs. The funds are administered through $500 one-time payments to their union members that may not qualify for unemployment insurance or other support programs. To donate to their efforts, check here.

 

BUSINESS OWNERS

Small business owners in Illinois may be eligible for low-interest disaster relief loans due to COVID-19 through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Please check here for details.

Small business owners in the City of Chicago may be eligible for low-interest disaster relief loans due to COVID-19. Please check here for information on the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund.

The State of Illinois has set aside over $90 million for emergency relief to small businesses. For a full list of loans, grants, and other information, please check here.

Cook County has delayed fines and fees for businesses and is delaying tax collection. For aid to businesses in Chicagoland, please check the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce website, linked here.

Small businesses, gig workers, and other independent contractors in suburban Cook County will soon be able to apply for zero-interest loans to help them stem their losses from COVID-19. The program is available only to businesses and contractors in suburban Cook County. You can read more about the program here. Applications are expected to go live in mid-April, but you can sign up for updates and be notified when applications open by filling out the form here.

Small businesses are in need of our help at this time. Many restaurants and stores in IL03 are still open and offering pickup and delivery options. To see a guide of some small businesses, check here. For a guide to support local bookstores at this time, check here. Not all small businesses are included on this list, but many more are still open around our district.

IMMIGRATION

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has closed its offices through at least April 7th, 2020. All the offices below are closed. For up-to-date information visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.

  • Field Offices
    • These are the offices where a person would go to get an interview with an immigration official from an immigration benefit such as for adjustment of status, naturalization, etc. Naturalization ceremonies are also held at field offices. 
      • USCIS domestic field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. 
  • Asylum Offices
    • These are the offices where a person would go for their asylum interview with an immigration official 
      • USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location for the interview. 
  • Application Support Centers (ASCs)
    • These are offices where you get your biometrics (fingerprints and picture) taken for the purposes of applying for an immigration benefit such as DACA, Naturalization, Green Card Applications
      • Once USCIS resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. 

Emergency Services: USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services. You can also dial 800-375-5283 (for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability: TTY 800-767-1833) to access automated information through an interactive menu 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are outside the United States or a U.S. territory, you can call 212-620-3418.

What if I have a pending immigration application such as DACA, Citizenship or others? 

USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. However, if you were scheduled to appear for an appointment at an ASC or field office, your appointment will be rescheduled by the service. 

COVID-19 and Public Charge

The final public charge rule will and will not affect immigrants who are experiencing possible COVID-19 signs or symptoms and who need to seek medical treatment.

  • USCIS announced Friday, March 13, 2020, that: “USCIS will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination… even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule (e.g. federally funded Medicaid).”
  • For those seeking coronavirus (COVID-19) information in other languages, please refer to the resources World Relief link below, listed by source and then alphabetically by language, starting with English: https://worldreliefdupageaurora.org/covid-19-resources

Going to an Emergency Room at a Hospital: If an individual has COVID-19 signs or symptoms, they should take the necessary steps to be tested and treated.  This may include seeking care in an Emergency Department.

Immigrants who seek care at an ER may be eligible for emergency Medicaid and the hospital may ask the immigrant to apply for it. The public charge test does not consider the use or receipt of emergency Medicaid. That means that use or receipt of emergency Medicaid is not a negative factor in the public charge test. 

  • Emergency Medicaid eligibility criteria: Non-citizen who does not meet the federal qualifying Medicaid criteria: 
    • Age 19 and older who meet all other factors of eligibility
    • Low-income uninsured immigrants who are ineligible for full Medicaid are the ones most likely to be eligible for emergency Medicaid and thus have their qualifying medical services paid for by the government.

However, not every immigration status qualifies for emergency Medicaid. Persons who are living in the U.S. temporarily are not eligible for emergency Medicaid because they do not meet the residency. 

Those low-income uninsured immigrants who do not qualify for emergency Medicaid (for example, their income is too high) may still qualify for hospital charity care programs. Receipt of charity care is not a negative factor in the public charge test.

Using Primary Care and Public Health Services

If an individual has what medical guidance suggests is mild COVID-19 signs or symptoms, they should contact a healthcare provider, such as a federally qualified health center (FQHC), clinic or a community health center rather than going to an ER. For a list of clinics please see the Health Care Access section of the ICIRR guide.

  • Care provided by FQHCs or community health centers is not a negative factor in the public charge test.
  • Services provided by public health departments is not a negative factor in the public charge test.
  • Many primary care providers have set up medical assistance lines over the phone to answer questions prior to coming to the physical location.
  • Here is an additional relevant resource from Protecting Immigrant Families.

To read the full, comprehensive ICIRR guide, check here.

The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet also has an immigrant support program. This location serves DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, and Kendall counties. It assists with the following:

  • (Very) limited financial assistance for basic needs and for immigration fees that go to US Dept. of Homeland Security (DACA renewal, naturalization, green card, etc)
  • Provides referrals and education for other services and information about immigration
  • For more information and to request assistance, contact Laura Bohorquez, [email protected], 630-519-6533

LEGAL AID

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services has closed its office through at least March 30, but staff are available via phone to provide pro bono legal help with issues ranging from child support and landlord-tenant disputes to how to write a will. Call 312-332-1624 or fill out the form on their website. CVLS also offers direction to other legal resources here.

The Metropolitan Tenants Organization crisis hotline is open; call 773-292-4988 for help with housing-related legal issues.

ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN

  • Internet Access
    • Free access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi For 60 Days For New K-12 and College Student Households. For more information, check here.
  • Books
    • Free access to L’il Libros worksheets for kids. For more information, check here.
  • PBS
    • Starting Monday, March 16, students in Pre-K through 12th grade will have the opportunity to access free, educational PBS daytime programming designated for each grade level weekdays. For more information, check here.
  • Math programs
    • MIND Research Institute is offering no cost access to a free math instructional program for students in grades K-8. For more information, check here.
  • Books and online learning experiences
    • Scholastic offers free, online learning experiences for kids of all ages. For more information, check here.
  • For information on supporting children and your family’s mental health during COVID-19, check here
  • Free STEM resources are available at this link.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you are healthy, you can donate blood with the American Red Cross. For more information and to schedule a time to give blood, check here.

Hospitals and health care providers across the area are actively seeking donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This includes unused N95 masks, surgical masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, nitrile gloves, isolation gowns and goggles. They are not accepting homemade cloth masks at this time.

Nonprofits and other groups in our area are seeking donations as well. BEDS Plus provides shelter, food, and resources to many on the Southwest Side. They are seeking help with the following. To help, please fill out the form here.

  • Donations to cover expenses
  • Food collection and delivery to clients/families
  • Food donations and supplies
  • Personal hygiene or shelter items
  • Clothing