Veteran hospital suffers COVID outbreak
Staff at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, located in the Tri-Taylor area, are increasing protective measures against COVID-19 after more than eighteen patients contracted the virus and one died from it. Hospital officials have taken full responsibility for the outbreak due to an employee who was sick with COVID-19 continuing to work and exposing several patients. In response to the outbreak, the hospital is requiring all staff to wear N95 masks at all times in high-risk areas, as well as goggles and a face mask when entering patients’ rooms, and has stopped all inpatient visits except for end-of-life situations until further notice. The hospital also plans to schedule weekly COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated staff members.
Update: Post-publication, health officials identified the first case of the Omnicron COVID-19 variant in Chicago. Luckily, the person did not require hospitalization.
New statewide rent relief
On December 6, applications were reopened for the Illinois Rental Payment program, which will be providing nearly $300 million in assistance to landlords and renters based on need. Like past versions of the program, this will be a joint application started by the tenant and completed by the landlord, with funds going directly to the landlord—but if the landlord does not wish to participate, the money will go directly to the tenant. Priority for this round of funding will be given to households earning less than fifty percent of the area median income and to households with one or more unemployed persons. Overall, this round is expected to help more than 32,500 Illinois households. Learn more and apply!: illinoishousinghelp.org
In the spring, Mayor Lori Lightfoot moved to pass an ordinance that would regulate companies that release pollution into the air. With the support of City Council, the measure will require additional environmental impact and traffic reviews before approving zoning permits. City officials have come under intense scrutiny for allowing South Side developers such as MAT Asphalt, RMG/Southside Recycling, and Hilco to operate in or near residential areas. Last month, professional and advocacy groups including the Chicago Lawyers Committee, Respiratory Health Association, the Illinois Environmental Council, the National Housing Law Project, and Natural Resources Defense Council, penned a letter to the City to request that it “desist from moving forward” with proposed Amazon warehouses in Black and brown communities and all diesel truck facilities seeking to expand their footprint.