Chicago launches new initiatives to support homeless during COVID-19 pandemic
The city of Chicago has launched a new system to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in homeless shelters and encampments.
The plan calls for enlisting medical professionals to work with shelter staff on symptom screenings for residents, as well as the shipment of more than 25,000 pieces of personal protective equipment for use at the locations.
The city will also partner with the University of Illinois Health and Rush University Medical Center to conduct more than 700 COVID-19 tests per week for shelter residents and staff.
“This effort has required the unprecedented mobilization of our city workforce in collaboration with medical providers, shelter operators and advocacy organizations centering on both prevention and response,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Monday press conference.
Officials estimate that more than 1,200 people experiencing homelessness are still living on the streets of Chicago.
The city has also partnered with A Safe Haven, Rush and Heartland Alliance to open a 100-bed isolation facility with wraparound services to house homeless residents who test positive for COVID-19 and also require support for mental health and substance use needs.
Lightfoot also told reporters she believes it is likely the state’s current stay-at-home order will be extended past April.
“I think that’s going to be difficult for us to say, April 30, everything comes up. I don’t expect that to happen,” she said. “I think it will extend beyond that.”
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