Greater than 1.3 million Illinois residents have contracted COVID-19 for the reason that pandemic started final 12 months, in accordance with the Illinois Department of Public Health.
To assist residents who turn into contaminated — or those that have considerations in regards to the vaccine — state officers Monday introduced the launch of the Pandemic Health Navigator Program.
“When somebody checks constructive for COVID-19, or is available in contact with another person who has, pandemic well being navigators are there, prepared to help with social service helps, private care training, vaccine entry, and even crucial logistics like making certain entry to groceries and meals when an individual has to isolate,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker mentioned throughout a information convention Monday. “Briefly, our pandemic well being navigators are an important a part of retaining our most susceptible residents secure, and I’m so grateful to all of them.”
This system has up to now responded to 1,270 requests for help, with greater than 96% of requests addressed inside 48 hours, in accordance with Dr. Tracey Smith, director of packages and group well being on the Illinois Public Well being Affiliation.
“This new program integrates native well being departments, community-based organizations and public well being companions to coordinate Illinois’ assets to succeed in probably the most susceptible populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by means of a grassroots strategy,” Smith mentioned.
This system will focus its efforts on high-risk communities, together with racial and ethnic minorities, foreign-born people, folks with restricted English proficiency, undocumented immigrants, folks experiencing homelessness, folks with disabilities and individuals who stay in rural areas.
This system consists of 65 community-based organizations and 23 federally certified well being facilities throughout the state outdoors of Prepare dinner County. So far, greater than 400 group well being employees and regional supervisors have been employed, in accordance with officers.
In accordance with a Pritzker spokesperson, Chicago and suburban Prepare dinner County requested to not take part in this system, selecting as a substitute to run their very own community-based efforts.
“This program is about one-on-one connections involving established, trusted members of the group, whether or not that’s a federally certified well being middle, a church, an LGBTQ-plus middle, a senior middle, or an area department of the NAACP,” Pritzker mentioned. “These are area people organizations who know their friends, their college students, their colleagues – individuals who converse their languages and know their neighborhoods.”
Whereas greater than 29% of the state’s inhabitants has been absolutely vaccinated, Pritzker mentioned partnering with trusted organizations by means of this program is significant to addressing vaccine hesitancy.
Pandemic well being navigators are “already laborious at work constructing confidence amongst our unvaccinated residents, educating them about what COVID actually is, what the vaccine can do for them and the way they’ll shield themselves and their households,” he mentioned.
Along with connecting residents with assets and educating them about COVID-19 and vaccines, pandemic well being navigators assist with native contact tracing efforts.