The COVID-19 crisis has taken over the country and Chicago is no different. All of Illinois is under a stay-at-home order from Governor J.B. Pritzker that lasts through April 30. What does this mean for you? Essentially, you must remain home unless you need to acquire basic needs such as food, medicine, take care of others, work an essential job, exercise, or visit the doctor.
Essential personnel includes but is not limited to the following:
- First responders
- Healthcare workers
- Mail carriers
- Waste collectors
- Members of the media
- Pharmacy employees
- Critical tradesmen
- Funeral home employees
Where to find meals during COVID-19
Many people in Chicago and throughout Illinois might have trouble finding food during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find a list of all the food pantries in and around Chicago here. Phone numbers, email addresses, and websites for the pantries are provided. It is best to call the pantry prior to visiting to find out what is available as well as their operating procedures.
It was announced in a press release on March 15 that Chicago Public Schools will be distributing meals to students while the schools remain closed for the pandemic. Meals can be picked up outside of all Chicago Public Schools for the duration of the closure between 9 am and 1 pm Monday through Friday. Please note that families can pick up their meals at any Chicago Public School, and not necessarily the school their child attends. You can find additional information regarding CPS school meals here.
Shopping hours dedicated for seniors
A handful of retailers that were deemed essential to remain open during the pandemic have scheduled dedicated shopping hours for senior citizens and those who are immunocompromised. Ensure you call or check beforehand for the most current operating hours and procedures, as things are changing all the time.
- Whole Foods: Customers 60 and older can shop for one hour prior to the store opening to the public. Check with your local Whole Foods as store hours vary.
- Target: The first hour the store is open each Wednesday is reserved for seniors and those who are immunocompromised.
- Jewel-Osco: Seniors can shop between 7 and 9 am every Tuesday and Thursday.
- Mariano’s: Seniors and immunocompromised shoppers can visit between 6 and 8 am daily.
- Walmart: Every Tuesday for an hour before the store opens anyone 60 or older can shop.
- Tony’s Fresh Market: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 am.
Questions about housing
If you are worried about losing your home or being evicted from your apartment during the pandemic, you can find answers to many of your questions regarding housing in the links below:
- Application for Emergency Housing Assistance
- The Rental Assistance Program
- Shelter List
- DFSS Community Service Centers (assistance with domestic violence)
- IDHS Family Community Resource Centers
- Housing Action Illinois
Additionally, the IL Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day. You can call or text 877-863-6338 for assistance.
Tax deferments, unemployment, and small business loans
The deadline to file taxes in Illinois has been extended to July 15, 2020, matching the extension at the federal level by the Internal Revenue Service. Questions about small business loans, unemployment, and other financial issues can be found here:
- Loans from the Small Business Administration
- Unemployment Benefits
- Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund
- Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund
- Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Resources
- Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Hospitality Emergency Grant Program
- Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership
- S. Department of Labor
- University of Chicago South Side COVID-19 Small Business and Nonprofit Emergency Fund
Utilities and other bills
Worried about being able to pay your utility and other bills? Here is some helpful information and links to various resources:
- The City of Chicago has suspended ticketed and towing practices as well as debt collection.
- An emergency order ending gas shutoff was issued by the Illinois Commerce Commission that lasts until May 1 or until whenever the Governor’s state of emergency ends. (Citizens Utility Board, People’s Gas, ComEd)
- Consumer Protection Mandate
The Illinois court system
Do you have a court case pending in the Illinois court system? It may be affected by court closings. If so, you can check the status of the court where your case is being heard using this link.
The Illinois court system website provides updates daily about each individual courthouse in every county. If your case is still active, and the courthouse has not closed, you are asked to follow social distancing guidelines and take all of the same precautions you would take during flu season.
Remote learning activities
These are unprecedented times for everyone, but teachers, students, and parents have had to adjust the most. No one ever expected that we would be taking on remote learning. The good news is that technology affords us some fun and interesting options for remote learning activities. Your children can do a lot of exploring without leaving the comfort of home using any of the following:
- The Louvre
- The Guggenheim
- The National Gallery of Art
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- com (free online courses, books, movies, and lectures)
- The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- The National Women’s History Museum
- The British Museum
- The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Want to tour sports museums while under quarantine? Check the list of the following:
Staying mentally healthy during a pandemic
Being forced to stay home during a pandemic is not easy. Anyone can find themselves struggling during this difficult time in our lives. You need to do something for yourself at least once a day. Sit outside with your dog, read a book, watch a new show, go for a walk (observe social distancing recommendations), paint a room in your home, video conference with friends and loved ones, find ways to laugh, or learn a new skill.
These are tough times, but we’ll get through them together. #IllinoisStrong #ChicagoStrong