CHICAGO — A group of activists and political leaders is sounding the alarm over COVID-19 concerns at senior homes on Mother’s Day, saying a lack of personal protective equipment at those facilities could put moms, grandmas and other residents in jeopardy.
Senior home residents and staff members account for nearly a third of all COVID-19 deaths across the country. So a group of lawmakers and activists delivered surgical masks and gloves to the 350 residents at Albany Terrace Apartments in Little Village Sunday.
They also delivered a little happiness to the nursing home’s moms and grandmas, holding up handmade greetings and other signs of gratitude, since they can’t receive visitors in person.
“We basically have made these signs to give people what they can’t get – outside,” said Isiah Hopkins, Little Village. “We still celebrate and love, and we’re giving them something to hold onto while they say home for this Pandemic.”
But in Illinois, nursing homes account for 48 percent of all COVID-19 cases and more than 50 nursing homes have passed the grim milestone of double-digit death counts. More than 1,500 people have died in Illinois nursing homes since the pandemic began.
As a member of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Local Advisory Council leadership, Rosemary Coleman represents several senior homes. She says in three buildings three people have died, and a janitor working in one building has the virus.
“We desperately need someone to come out with a mobile unit and test all of our seniors,” Coleman said.
Medical experts say the elderly and frail are among the most susceptible to getting sick from the virus, but State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-5th District) says in many communities poverty is another factor.
“For one thing: poverty. It’s a big part. When I came here the first day, I saw people with no masks. They didn’t have any masks. They didn’t have money to buy masks. They don’t even have money to get gloves,” Van Pelt said.
Well-known community activist Reverend Robin Hood is calling for donations of gloves, gowns and masks to protect seniors.
“If you want to stop something you have to get in the front of it. The best we can do right now is pass out PPE, and get everybody on one accord,” Hood said.
and with health risks in senior homes so high, coleman has a request for families on behalf of the residents she represents: stay home.
“I’m asking all of them to give the mothers the best Mother’s Day present they could ever give – and that’s to stay at home,” Coleman said.