Coronavirus Chicago: Mayor Lori Lightfoot ensures residents have access to food, services during COVID-19 'stay-at-home' order

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Non-essential businesses will close shop Saturday for the next couple weeks as Illinois joins three other states with "stay-at-home" orders to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot emphasized that people should not rush to grocery stores since their operations aren't changing under the new order.

Lightfoot reassured Chicago residents that they will continue to have access to food and services during the new order that takes effect at 5 p.m. Saturday night until April 7.

"As a reminder this means residents are to stay in their home except for essential travel," the mayor said. "This is not martial law."

The mayor also announced her office has formed a partnership with Sitter City that will launch a new program, starting Sunday, to help the city's essential workforce, such as healthcare workers, first responders and the teams that support them.

While she said there will be changes, she added that the governor's order aligns with what officials have already been advising and practicing in the city.

What will stay open:
  • grocery stores;

  • food banks;

  • convenience stores;

  • pharmacies;

  • neighborhood restaurants for pick-up

  • In addition to food:
  • banks;

  • hardware stores;

  • plumbers;

  • laundry services

  • Lightfoot also made clear that essential city services, such as hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities are open and treating patients. Utilities services will also halt shut-offs and late fees during this time.

    Dispensaries are also considered essential business because of medical marijuana and will remain open during the order. Patrons will still be able to buy recreational marijuana as well.

    Roads will continue to stay open, CTA transportation will continue running and private services such as Uber, Lyft and other ride shares are operational.
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    State and local officials emphasized that people should not rush to grocery stores since their operations aren't changing under the new order.

    Other businesses, like those that sell high-dollar merchandise will not be open.

    Some places have already boarded up windows.

    Liquor stores are considered essential businesses so they will remain in operation, so will home repair and emergency supply places like Menards.

    Doctors also said this is one of the best ways to make sure people who need immediate care in a hospital can actually get it.

    The mayor pointed out that residents are permitted to take walks outside, while remembering to practice social distancing.

    "My wife and I took a stroll this morning ... a little brisk but good for the soul," she said.

    She also encouraged everyone to continuously check on the well-being of your family, friends and neighbors during this time.

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    Downtown Chicago is almost unrecognizable, with restaurants closed and most people working from home.

    CPS is continuing to provide food packages families can pick up containing three days of meals for each child in the household. The service is available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays at your nearest CPS school.

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    Volunteers race to provide food for those in need

    The Greater Food Depository and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago are also ensuring access to food for those in need at their more than 120 sites designated to help residents. The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division of Emergency Disaster Services will provide mobile feeding services and is able to prepare 75,000 meals within 48 hours.

    Catholic Charities is providing meals to seniors at a number of locations in both Lake and Cook County. The charity is also providing supper to go as well as counseling and case management services remotely.

    The Greater Food Depository's network of agencies and program benefits are available. Their outreach team can be reached by phone to help Chicagoans apply for SNAP and Medicaid benefits.

    For benefit outreach, you can call 773-843-5416. 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or you can apply directly with the Illinois Department of Human Services. If you want to volunteer, CLICK HERE.

    "The time is now to step up and help them because they are helping us," Lightfoot said.

    Lightfoot also announced the Response Fund created by the Chicago Community Trust and The United Way has raised $13.5 million to date for Chicago residents.

    "We are seeing the resilience that is in this city's DNA," Lightfoot said.

    "Please step up and help or volunteer because they are helping us," Lightfoot said.

    The Greater Chicago Food Depository has been buying more food and packaging thousands of grab and go meals so families can maintain social distancing.

    The outreach team is also available to assist people who need to get connected to the snap program. Their number is (773) 8430-5416.

    Food pantries, like Care for Real, have residents like Elizabeth Taylor who rely on donations.

    "Most important thing to care for each other," Taylor said

    As Illinois remains essentially shut down, the Greater Chicago Food Depository says it expects demand to increase, meaning donations are as important as ever.
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