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CHICAGO — A group of volunteers is on a mission to bring Chicago’s seniors everything they need to protect their health in the face of COVID-19, from soap and hand sanitizers to Vitamin C.

Community organizer Jahmal Cole has shoveled snow for the elderly, passed out water and fans when it was hot, and now with concerns about coronavirus on the rise, he and his group My Block, My Hood, My City are stepping up for seniors in need. 

“From Jefferson park to Roseland, we’re going to go anywhere in the city that a senior needs support,” Cole said Tuesday.

As coronavirus spreads, Governor J.B. Pritzker has appealed to residents to not only take precautions, but also help out those at greatest risk of contracting COVID-19: the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. 

Cole says he’s seen what happens when the government is confronted by such a large issue, and seniors are sometimes the last to get the help they need. 

“When the city gets overwhelmed by mother nature, they’re the last to get any support,” Cole said.

For the past 24 hours, Cole and other organizers have been putting together care packages for seniors. But it’s been a challenge, because many places are out of everything from hand sanitizers to soaps and Emergen-C. 

So they’re asking people to reach out to them on their website to do one of two things: offer to donate items and they will come and pick them up, or request a care package for a senior in need. Their goal is to deliver to them for free starting tomorrow afternoon.

“Instead of waiting for big city government, our philosophy is, ‘if there’s something simple I can do that can have a positive impact on a block, you don’t have to be a politician to go buy some Emergen-C,’” Cole said. 

Health officials are also stepping up to protect seniors and the most vulnerable by asking them to limit community activities, especially large indoor gatherings.  The Pritzker administration is also calling on privately-held nursing homes to follow the state’s lead.

Some polling places that are traditionally held in nursing homes and veterans’ centers are also being moved, and the City of Chicago is suspending all group activities and classes at senior centers as a precaution.