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  • 7 Oct 2021 2:34 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Cook County Health will be hosting a virtual event on Thursday, October 14 at 6 pm for a “Conversation with Hispanics, Latinos and Latinas in Medicine.”

    Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Health leaders will discuss the historic role that Hispanics and Latino/as have played in medicine, especially in Cook County, as well as touch on the topics that are of most concern for the community, including COVID-19 and mental health.

     The virtual event will be live-streamed on their  Facebook page


  • 6 Oct 2021 1:33 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 pandemic added new obstacles and exacerbated existing barriers to healthy eating and physical activity in 2020 and 2021, and deepened longstanding racial and economic inequities in the United States. Emerging data suggests eating habits shifted, physical activity declined, stress and anxiety increased, food insecurity worsened, and many Americans gained weight throughout the pandemic, a sharp reminder of the effects that underlying social, economic, and environmental conditions have on the health and well-being of Americans. Many of direct and indirect effects of the pandemic fell disproportionally on certain populations, including low-income communities and communities of color.

    Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public health policy, research, and advocacy organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community, and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority.

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided support for this report. Opinions in it are TFAH’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of RWJF.

    Download full report here>


  • 5 Oct 2021 2:27 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force was established by Executive Order 13995, Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery, which was issued on January 21, 2021. Since February, the Task Force has convened every month as part of the government-wide effort to identify and eliminate health and social disparities that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization and death related to COVID-19.

    This month, the Task Force released its deliberation and vote on final recommendations with proposed priorities, suggested outcomes and recommendations to achieve the outcomes. 

    Proposed Priorities 

    Priority 1 - Empower and Invest in Community-Led Solutions to Address Health Equity 

    Priority 2 - Enforce a Data Ecosystem that Promotes Equity-driven Decision-Making 

    Priority 3 - Increase Accountability for Health Equity Outcomes 

    Priority 4 - Invest in a Representative Health Care Workforce and Increase Equitable Acces to Quality Health for All 

    Priority 5 - Lead and Coordinate Implementation of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Recommendations for a permanent health equity infrastructure in the White House. 

    Download the 79-page report here.  

    To read more, visit the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force webpage on the OMH website.


  • 4 Oct 2021 7:57 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Twenty years after 9/11, COVID-19 demonstrated that our nation’s public health readiness, despite the tireless efforts of committed and skilled public health professionals who have admirably responded, was compromised by disconnected local, state, and federal data systems and disease surveillance capacity; an inadequate medical supply chain to meet the demand for personal protective equipment; insufficient surge capacity to meet the national demand for contact tracing and case investigation, and varied attention to building equity and community resilience activities into ongoing response and recovery efforts. So, do we have the preparedness we need? The answer is mixed. (APHA) 

    Full article> 


  • 1 Oct 2021 6:23 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    President Toni Preckwinkle Announces $75M for Additional Round of
    Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance

    CHICAGO — (October 1, 2021)—Today, President Preckwinkle, County Board Commissioners Donna Miller, Brandon Johnson, and Frank J. Aguilar, the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, and the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) announced another round of Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA 2) to support residents of suburban Cook County who are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability due to the pandemic.

    The program will dedicate an additional $75M, funded through the American Rescue Plan, to provide emergency rental assistance to both tenants and landlords, with prioritization preference given to suburban Cook County’s most vulnerable residents. The program will begin accepting applications on Monday, October 4, 2021, and will remain open until Friday, October 29, 2021.

    “This is a crucial extension of our Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which has provided aid to nearly 8,000 tenants and landlords during this difficult time. It was a top priority for the County to continue this program and make critical improvements, such as covering relocation, security deposits, and other housing-related expenses that our residents so desperately need,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

    Designed to prevent and relieve housing instability for suburban Cook County renters and landlords who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ERA 2 can help with up to 18 months of rental assistance. The program will cover past and current utility expenses, or other related housing expenses including relocation costs, security deposits, processing fees, and temporary housing solutions. In addition, under ERA 2, public housing residents and families with Housing Choice Vouchers are eligible to apply for assistance with their portion of rent.

    “Because the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable residents, ERA 2 allows residents and landlords who have received rental assistance from Cook County’s ERA 1 program to apply for an additional three months of assistance,” states Xochitl Flores, Bureau Chief of Economic Development of Cook County. “This program has been instrumental in providing direct rental assistance, preventing evictions, and helping ensure our residents can maintain a stable home, even in the face of unprecedented financial hardships caused by the pandemic.”

    To qualify for assistance under ERA 2, applicants must live in suburban Cook County and rent their place of residence. They must have a current or future obligation to pay rent, utilities, and/or other housing-related expenses and have a household annual income at or below established requirements (ranging from $52,200 for single-person households up to $98,450 for eight-person households). Additionally, applicants must have proof of financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic such as losing income, working fewer hours, being furloughed, needing to stay home because of risk of infection or to care for a child, or incurring significant costs during COVID-19.

    Beyond meeting the eligibility requirements, priority will be given to eligible households that have received an eviction notice, households where at least one member has been unemployed for 90 days prior to applying, households where an individual pays more than 50% of income on rent, and households that are considered overcrowded. Priority applications will be processed before non-priority applications.

    Landlords and tenants in suburban Cook Country who wish to apply for ERA 2 funding can do so by visiting Cook County Covid-19 Emergency Rental Assistance at https://www.cookcountyil.gov/service/covid-19-recovery-rental-assistance-program. All applications are open on October 4 and will be accepted until October 29, 2021. For additional information, visit the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development at https://www.cookcountyil.gov/bureau-of-economic-development, or call (833) 221-9821. Help is available in multiple languages. Residents and landlords dealing with issues surrounding evictions and debt are also encouraged to contact Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD) at www.cookcountylegalaid.org or by calling 855-956-5763 to get free legal aid and mediation services to help resolve issues.


  • 1 Oct 2021 6:07 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Raoul asks Supreme Court to take up case on states' authority to address public health crises. [Health News Illinois 9.30.2021]

    Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined nearly a dozen colleagues this week to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case they say would allow states to enact public health policies to prevent opioid overdose deaths.

    The 11 attorneys general signed off on a friend-of-the-court brief to ask the higher court to review a ruling by the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that prevents a Pennsylvania nonprofit from operating a safe injection site. The brief argues the medically supervised site would afford those who use opioids immediate medical care in the event of an overdose.

    The organization was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice to block the site.

    The brief argues for the Supreme Court to take the case up to better establish state and local authority to address public health crises, as well as the future of other safe injection sites.

    “Opioid addiction has destroyed lives and devastated families and communities throughout Illinois and the country,” Raoul said in a statement. “States have the right to enact public health measures to best treat and protect their residents as they continue to fight the opioid epidemic.”

    On 9.30.2021, we share an NQF report on the crisis. Read more here https://iomc.org/news/11128989


  • 30 Sep 2021 4:27 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Rural Americans are dying of COVID at more than twice the rate of their urban counterparts — a divide that health experts say is likely to widen as access to medical care shrinks for a population that tends to be older, sicker, heavier, poorer and less vaccinated. [Modern Healthcare 9.30.2021]

    While the initial surge of COVID-19 deaths skipped over much of rural America, where roughly 15% of Americans live, nonmetropolitan mortality rates quickly started to outpace those of metropolitan areas as the virus spread nationwide before vaccinations became available, according to data from the Rural Policy Research Institute.

    Since the pandemic began, about 1 in 434 rural Americans have died of COVID, compared with roughly 1 in 513 urban Americans, the institute’s data shows. And though vaccines have reduced overall COVID death rates since the winter peak, rural mortality rates are now more than double urban rates — and accelerating quickly.

    Full article here

    Download Data Brief here  COVID Longitudinal Data_9.2021.pdf


  • 30 Sep 2021 1:09 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significantly adverse impact on food and nutrition security, though this was mitigated by increased support for federal food and nutrition programs. Poverty increased as businesses closed and families experienced job losses.

    Access, availability, and affordability of nutritious foods has been challenging given consumer financial constraints and supply chain disruptions.

    Food insecurity is defined as being uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food because of insufficient money or resources.1 Specific estimates of food insecurity during COVID-19 vary based on multiple factors, including timing, population surveyed, and methodology, and range from 8% to 38%.2, 3, 4 USDA reported that food insecurity affected 10.5% of U.S. households in 2020, noting the prevalence of food insecurity did not change from 2019.5 It is likely that the benefit increases and flexibilities provided by the COVID-19 recovery legislation helped to prevent the increase in overall food insecurity.

    Food insecurity is historically more common among certain population groups, including seniors, people who have low incomes, and Black, Latinx, and Native American communities.6, 7, 8, 9 USDA’s 2020 data showed that households with Black individuals and households with children did experience significant increases in food insecurity during the pandemic even as overall food insecurity stayed the same.10 

    Download full report here>


  • 29 Sep 2021 10:28 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    National Quality Forum (NQF) furthers its commitment to combat the overdose crisis in the U.S. with a new report from the Opioids and Behavioral Health Committee. More than 255 individuals die each day from a drug overdose as our nation continues to grapple with a continuing opioid and substance use disorder (SUD) crisis; and the latest data shows 9.5 million adults within the U.S. have both a mental illness, and a co-occurring SUD. [NQF 9.29.2021]

    Download the Report here

    Opioid-related overdose deaths and morbidity demand national attention and have emerged as some of the most complex and persistent challenges facing the healthcare delivery system. This crisis has drastically worsened during the COVID-19 public health emergency, especially for individuals with co-occurring behavioral health conditions. In 2020, opioid-involved overdose deaths increased to an estimated 69,769 according to provisional data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Factors related to the pandemic, such as social isolation, increased anxiety and depression, and disrupted access to SUD support services likely contributed to the increase in overdose deaths. 

    ...The report was developed to improve the prevention and monitoring of SUD, opioid-related overdoses, and opioid-related mortality, specifically in individuals with co-occurring behavioral health conditions. It outlines opportunities for coordination and partnerships across care settings and enables stakeholders to adapt and improve their readiness in a rapidly changing landscape. Collaboration and coordination from diverse stakeholders are critical to transitioning from measure concepts to quality measures that can be used to improve health and outcomes. Given the ever-changing nature of the crisis, it is important to ensure measure concepts and recommendations evolve as the latest research and data emerge.

    "The ongoing opioid and SUD crisis has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are seeing opioid-related overdoses and deaths at increasing rates. As we continue to combat this crisis, we must employ high quality measurement science to identify, assess, and improve equitable access and care for people with co-occurring SUD and behavioral health conditions," said Meredith Gerland, MPH, Senior Director, Quality Innovation, National Quality Forum.



  • 28 Sep 2021 4:31 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    More than 180 million Americans, including more than 80 percent of people over age 65, are fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. There’s no question that full vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against this devastating virus and reduce your chances of developing severe or long-lasting illness if you do get sick. But, to stay ahead of this terrible virus, important questions do remain. A big one right now is: How soon will booster shots be needed and for whom? [NIH 9.28.2021]

    The answers to this question will continue to evolve as more high-quality data become available. But here’s what we know right now for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster. Late last week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended that:

    • Those 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot at least 6 months after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,
    • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot at least 6 months after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,
    • Individuals aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot at least 6 months after getting fully vaccinated with their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, based on their individual benefits and risks.
    • Frontline workers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may receive a booster. This group includes anyone age 18 through 64 whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of COVID-19. [1]

    Taken together, these CDC recommendations are in line with those issued two days earlier by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [2].

    More details here>


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