Chicago Department of Public Health Weekly Media Brief, 7/28/2023

July 28, 2023

CDPH Public Information

Jump Ahead

High Heat, Bad Air

Chicago is dealing with a double-whammy of extreme heat and humidity coupled with poor air quality caused by smoke from Candian wildfires. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Friday while the Illinois EPA also issued an Air Quality Alert in effect until midnight on Friday.

Everyone should be careful during times of extreme heat, but people over 65 are especially vulnerable for three reasons: greater use of medications that can alter the body’s response to heat, biological changes that naturally occur with age, and higher rates of age-related chronic disease.

Signs of heat exhaustion include lightheadedness, headache, dizziness, racing heart or feeling lethargic. Tips for staying cool for everyone during these times include limiting outdoor activities to the cooler morning and evening hours, taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of water.

CDPH has guidance on air quality as well as heat HERE, along with a list of cooling centers throughout the city for all Chicagoans to access. In addition, the City’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications also has a list of cooling centers HERE and additional guidance on dealing with heat.

Mapping The Heat

It's time to beat the heat!

More than 500 volunteers signed up to join the Heat Watch 2023 campaign put on in partnership with community organizations, CDPH, and the Office of Climate and Environmental Equity—with activation day taking place Friday. Over the course of three 1-hour shifts (6–7 am; 3–4 pm; and 7–8 pm), paid resident scientists will measure ambient air temperature across all 77 communities in Chicago.

Hub locations include North Park Village Nature Center (5801 N. Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60646); Mi Villita Neighbors (2826 S. Millard Ave, Chicago, IL 60623); Progressive Baptist Church (3658 S. Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60609); Windsor Park Lutheran Church (2619 E. 76th St, Chicago, IL 60649); and Southeast Environmental Task Force Office (13300 S. Baltimore Avenue, Chicago, IL 60633).

Contact for footage/interview availability or visit to learn more about the campaign.

CDPH Concludes Poliovirus Wastewater Surveillance

This week, CDPH announced the conclusion of its four-month wastewater surveillance program for poliovirus, with all samples negative and no further action required. Chicago’s wastewater monitoring infrastructure was initially developed as part of the effort to detect and track various strains of COVID-19 throughout the City, but can also be leveraged to test for other diseases of potential public health concern. CDPH Director of Lab-Based Surveillance Alyse Kittner joined Dr. Arwady on Facebook Live this week to discuss the capabilities of the wastewater monitoring program and the crucial role it plays in helping public health officials understand and control the spread of infectious diseases, food-borne illnesses, and other pathogens.

For more information on CDPH’s poliovirus monitoring initiative and wastewater surveillance program, see the press release published earlier this week.

Focus on CARE

CDPH participated in a subject matter hearing this week with the City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations to discuss best practices for the delivery of mental health care and crisis response services in the city. The City’s current crisis response program, Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement, or CARE, is piloting in 11 community areas with three different models. The Alternate Response Team pairs a CDPH Crisis Clinician with a Chicago Fire Department (CFD) Community Paramedic and responds to low-risk 911 calls with a mental health component. The Opioid Response Team is comprised of a CFD Community Paramedic with a Peer Recovery Specialist and conducts in-person visits to individuals who have recently experienced an overdose. The Multidisciplinary Team is made up of a CFD Community Paramedic, a CDPH Crisis Clinician and a CPD Crisis Intervention Team Officer. That team responds to low to moderate risk 911 calls with a mental health component. To learn more about the program, visit the CARE dashboard.

The subject matter hearing came at a relevant time as President Biden also announced new actions to improve and strengthen mental health parity requirements, this week. The actions should ensure that more than 150 million American with private health insurance can better access mental health benefits under their insurance plan.