Measure aims to help seniors stay connected amid COVID-19 isolation
An effort to help seniors and people with disabilities living in nursing homes stay connected with loved ones and doctors amid the COVID-19 pandemic is gaining support from suburban legislators.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, a public health expert and nurse from Naperville, says she has heard from constituents concerned about the mental and physical well-being of family members confined to nursing homes.
"The coronavirus pandemic has severely isolated nursing home residents, making it difficult for family members to see them and for them to be able to access health care providers," Underwood said. "We've had a number of bad outbreaks in long-term care facilities in my district. Some of those facilities are having difficulty getting the tests and administering them to residents."
Underwood is co-sponsoring the Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, of Evanston. The measure authorizes $50 million for the Department of Health and Human Services' Telehealth Resource Center to help nursing facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding expand telehealth services. It also establishes grants for nursing homes to purchase technology so seniors can connect virtually with family members.
Virtual 2020 Census town hall
Northwest suburban leaders held a Facebook Live virtual town hall Friday to address bringing 2020 Census self-response rates up and ongoing outreach efforts toward hard-to-count populations.
Cook County was trailing with a self-response rate of 57.6% compared to the state's overall response rate of 63% as of Friday, Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison said.
His office is working with the American Association of Retired Asians to release a series of multilingual census PSA videos aimed at educating elderly Asians who are not native English speakers.
Considering the young
Hanover Park Village Clerk Eira Corral Sepúlveda is concerned about the undercounting of young children -- nearly 1 million children younger than 5 were not counted nationwide during the 2010 Census.
"This is of particular interest to me as a millennial mom from a diverse community," she added.
Hanover Park has been working with community partners, such as Centro de Información, with the dual purpose of census outreach and providing COVID-19 relief in the Latino community, Sepúlveda said.
Elgin census efforts
Elgin's 2020 Census self-response rate was 65.6% as of Friday.
"We are so happy with that (number) with this challenging atmosphere," said Denise Raleigh of Gail Borden Public Library and Elgin's Complete Count Committee. "All of our four hard-to-count tracts are close to 50%."
The library is partnering with Elgin Area School District U-46, the city of Elgin, Centro de Información and local churches to disseminate information.
"We are giving out bilingual census flyers at food distribution events," Raleigh said. "We flipped the whole (outreach) campaign to digital."
Census 2020 Facebook outreach
Centro de Información in Elgin will conduct Census 2020 Facebook Live events in Spanish from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, and again on May 27, June 10 and June 24.
A virtual festival: Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin will host its fifth annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration at Home on Saturday, May 16.
It's the library's first virtual community festival highlighting Asian-Pacific culture, stories and performances. Elgin leaders will interact live with artists, authors, educators and dancers to mark Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Partnering are Elgin Community College, the city of Elgin, Elgin Public Museum, Multicultural Outreach Education Foundation, and Elgin History Museum. For details, visit the library's Facebook page.
COVID-19 racial disparities
Testing, tracing, treatment and isolation is needed regardless of socioeconomic or immigrant status to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, says U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield.
Schneider and Rep. Underwood hosted a Facebook talk Friday on racial health disparities and how the pandemic disproportionately is affecting black and Latino communities.
"There are so many disparities leading into this crisis that have been exacerbated by the pandemic itself," Schneider said.
African Americans constitute less than 15% of Illinois' population, yet account for more than a third of COVID-19 deaths. Latinos make up the highest proportion of cases of any ethnic group, state data shows.
In Lake County, for every white person confirmed to have COVID-19, there are four blacks and eight Latinos testing positive, said Demetrius Willis, nutrition services assistant coordinator for the Lake County Health Department.
Illinois is among a few states collecting race and ethnicity data for COVID-19 cases. But the information is provided voluntarily and demographic data is not available for a large percentage of cases.
"If people choose not to identify, then we don't know the full scope (of the disparities)," Underwood said.
• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic with Madhu Krishnamurthy at email@example.com.