What does the end of the public health emergency mean for access to COVID-19 testing?
During the pandemic, the U.S. government and the State of Illinois established temporary rules regarding payment for lab-based and at-home COVID-19 tests to ensure everyone had access to the tools needed to protect themselves. Beginning May 11, many of these rules will begin to phase out when the public health emergency ends.
At-home rapid antigen tests and lab-based PCR tests will continue to be available in Chicago, but they won’t always be free for everyone.
At-Home tests will continue to be available in pharmacies but after May 11, private insurance companies will no longer be required to pay for at-home tests, and Medicare recipients will no longer have access to free tests. Contact your insurance provider for more information. Medicaid will still pay for at-home tests.
The City will scale back its distribution of at-home tests to community organizations, but will maintain tests and a distribution plan in the case of a surge.
TAKE ACTION.Those with Medicare and private insurance should aim to get additional free tests before May 11.
In addition, while supplies last, every household can still have free tests mailed to them at home. Go to COVIDtests.gov and enter your mailing address.
Lab-based PCR tests will continue to be available at select pharmacies, hospitals and health clinics. Medicare and Medicaid will continue to pay for lab-based tests, but private insurance companies may decide to require co-pays for them.
Select pharmacies and health clinics will continue to offer free PCR tests through funding from CDC for those without insurance. Visit https://testinglocator.cdc.gov/ to find no-cost testing.
Mental Health Crisis Care and Response Debated
CDPH Deputy Commissioner of Behavioral Health Matt Richards participated in a panel conversation today on improving our mental health crisis response and care, hosted by the City Club of Chicago and which you can see here. Other participants included Dr. Harold Pollack, co-founder of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and co-director of the UofC Health Lab, and Sherriff Jerry Clayton of Washtenaw County, Michigan. The conversation was moderated by WBEZ Criminal Justice reporter, Shannon Heffernan, and focused on what we are learning from collaborations among public health leaders, law enforcement officials, and researchers about ways we can improve emergency first-response and follow-up to mental health crises.
In September 2021, the City launched the Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) program that embedded mental health professionals into the City's 911 response system. To learn more about the CARE program, click here.
Arbor Day is Friday, April 28
Grounded in health equity and climate justice, Our Roots Chicago grew out of the City's 2022 Climate Action Plan. This community-driven, data-informed initiative has a goal of expanding Chicago's tree canopy coverage by planting 75,000 over five years, and more than 18,000 trees were planted last year.
Residents can request a free parkway tree and be part of the City's initiative to bring more trees to communities across Chicago. This Friday, the City will celebrate Arbor Day in the Archer Heights community with a tree planting to commemorate its 41st year as a "Tree City USA."
Practitioners in the human trafficking, sex work, gender-based violence, and substance use space convened this week at Lawndale Christian Conference Center to share insights, best practices on harm reduction, and opportunities for collaboration to make Chicago safer for all.
Opioid overdose is one of the leading causes of the 10-year life expectancy gap between Black and white Chicagoans, a gap that widened during the pandemic. Each year, more Chicagoans die from opioid-related overdose than homicides and traffic crash fatalities combined. To find free Narcan in Chicago, visit: bit.ly/FindNarcan.
To learn more about the City's Strategic Plan to address gender-based violence and human trafficking click here.
Get Moving Chicago!
Chicago Moves Day is next Wednesday May 3, at Union Park, and will highlight the wide variety of fitness and wellness opportunities that Chicago residents can take advantage of across the city through onsite workouts, fitness and health screenings, and product sampling.
CDPH to Host Syndemics Prevention Focused Conference
CDPH’s Syndemic Infectious Disease Bureau (SID) will host a daylong conference on Tuesday, May 2, for providers, as well as federal, state, and local leaders in public health and Syndemics prevention. The conference, “Syndemics: Current and Future State,” is an advanced continuing education program on the evolution of screening and treating Syndemic infections in Chicago. Attendees will discuss trending topics of local and national importance, including Syndemic infectious disease epidemiology, application of research findings to programs and practice, and strategic public health interventions among the Syndemic infections.