Lack of funding forces end of public health district housing, food assistance for COVID-positive residents

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Screenshot of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District's COVID-19 dashboard taken on August 1, 2022.

Come mid-August, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District will no longer offer food and housing assistance to those who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

In an announcement Monday, Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde also released other upcoming changes that include no more contact tracing — reaching out to those who have come in contact with those who test positive — as of August 15. 

Up until now, the health district also provided hotel rooms as alternative housing to COVID-positive residents who needed to isolate and food assistance for those quarantining at home.

“While COVID will continue to persist in our county, we are entering a period where state and federal mandates are being rescinded, funding is being reduced, and resources are being reallocated,” Pryde said. 

The public health district has spent nearly $690,000 of federal funds since March 2020 on food and shelter assistance — a sum of nearly $390,000 in food assistance and about $300,000 in hotel costs, according to data provided by the health department. 

The lack of resources also means that the health department will no longer provide testing kits for routine or employment-related screening.

“After (two and half) years, places that require this should now be ready to do this,” Pryde said in an email. 

As of August 4, there were 545 active COVID-19 cases in Champaign County. All total, there have been 74,830 confirmed cases of the virus and 302 deaths. 

The risk for COVID-19 is denoted as high on the health department’s website. There are more than 130,000 people within Champaign County that have been fully vaccinated, making up nearly 70% of the population eligible to receive the vaccination, according to health district data. 

“(The ceasing of contact tracing) is not a reason to be complacent; rather, we believe that Champaign County residents have the knowledge and tools readily available to them to adopt effective precautions to prevent COVID-19 infections and to make timely care decisions if they have a positive COVID-19 test,” Pryde said in the release. 

The health district also posted further guidance for isolation procedures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the announcement.

The press release shared existing programs and organizations for those in need of certain assistance, such as the Eastern Illinois Foodbank schedule for Champaign County, rent assistance through the Regional Planning Commission and some immigrant and refugee resources.

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