Information, Health and Food Help During COVID-19 Outbreak in Illinois

Posted on 03/25/20 by Lisa Bertagnoli

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois is providing information and resources to help older residents and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and help prevent it from spreading to others.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has ordered Illinois residents to stay home except for essential activities such as doctor visits or to obtain necessary supplies. Only essential businesses, such as grocery stores, are open, and the governor has prohibited public gatherings of any kind.

“In a short period of time, COVID-19 has rapidly spread throughout Illinois, necessitating updated and more stringent guidance” from public officials, reads the governor’s executive order, dated March 20.

As of March 26, the state had 1,865 confirmed cases and 19 deaths from coronavirus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms. Illinois residents can get updates via the state’s coronavirus page.

If you have coronavirus symptoms, call your health care provider or local public health department to figure out if you can—and should—get tested. Signs of the virus are a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath. (Read more about coronavirus and how to stay safe.) For information on how to get tested, visit the Illinois Department on Aging website.

For medical, food and recovery services and information, call your local 211. Here’s where to go for other food, health and other resources.

Food assistance

Chicago-area residents can search the Greater Chicago Food Depository website by ZIP code for food pantries closest to them. The food depository recommends calling food banks before visiting, as their hours might vary.

Residents outside the city can search the Feeding America website by ZIP code to locate a food pantry.

Chicago’s Meals on Wheels program, which is managed by the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, delivers in-home meals to homebound people age 60 and older. To learn more or/and enroll, phone 312-744-4016, or visit the city’s Information and Assessment page.

For the state of Illinois’ meal-delivery program for homebound older persons, visit the state’s Department on Aging Nutrition Program page.

Grocery stores

Many stores have established special shopping hours for older residents, who can be more vulnerable to coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Whole Foods Market stores are opening to customers age 60 or older one hour before opening the stores to the general public. Click here to check store locations and store hours in your area.

Albertsons stores, including Jewel-Osco and Safeway, are open Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for vulnerable populations, including seniors and pregnant women.

Mariano’s grocery stores are open to customers age 60 and older from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. daily. Click here to find a store in your area. Mariano’s parent Kroger also operates Food 4 Less stores, which open for customers age 60-plus on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Costco stores are open to members age 60-plus from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Through April 26, Walmart stores will open an hour early every Tuesday for customers age 60 and older. The stores’ pharmacies and vision centers will also be open during this time.

Walgreens stores are open for people age 55 and older from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. every Tuesday; that age group also receives a 30 percent discount on Tuesdays. The stores are also offering free shipping for online purchases and drive-through purchase for select items during regular store hours.

And here's another list of stores with special hours, including many in downstate Illinois.

Government services

If you have been laid off from your job because of the coronavirus, click here for information on applying for unemployment benefits.

To renew your drivers’ license on line, visit the Illinois Secretary of State website. Expiration dates for state ID cards, drivers’ licenses, and vehicle registration will be extended for the duration of the disaster period, as proclaimed by Gov. Pritzker, and 30 days beyond that date.

The llinois Department on Aging has caregiver resource centers.

Stress relief

Many cultural organizations are offering virtual versions of their art.

Take a virtual tour of the Art Institute of Chicago, including its current El Greco: Ambition and Defiance exhibition.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s YouTube channel offers performance videos of all kind, from opera to piano concertos.

Shedd Aquarium’s website shows soothing videos of sea creatures swimming to a backdrop of gentle music.

Chicago residents can visit Chicago Public Library virtually for tons of online content, from light reading to heavy research. Residents (age 14 and older) can apply for a library card online, too.

More on Coronavirus

This story is provided by AARP Illinois. Visit the AARP Illinois page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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