It can be hard to know exactly how to take care of your family during COVID-19. You may also be struggling to get the things you need, like food and diapers, right now. This article provides answers to common questions people in Illinois have about caring for their families during this crisis. This page also includes links to the resources we like best. Click any link to learn more!
How can I protect my family from coronavirus?
There is a lot of information out there about preventing the spread of COVID-19. The best place to read about preventing COVID-19 is this website from the CDC. Here are the most important things you can do:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is the best way to protect your family.
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water. It is especially important to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, while preparing food, and after you have been in a public place.
- When you do leave home, wear a mask. Masks are helpful in preventing the spread of COVID-19, especially when they are worn by many people. Anyone age 2 and older should wear a mask over their mouth and nose anytime they are in a crowded public space where they are not able to stay 6 feet away from others. This is especially important when indoors, or when you are with people that do not live with you. The CDC recently updated its recommendations for when you need to wear a mask but be sure to check state/local recommendations.
- You should regularly clean and disinfect the things that you touch a lot, especially if someone in your home has COVID-19. Click this link for advice from the CDC on how to effectively clean.
- Know what to do if you or someone in your home gets sick. The most important thing you can do is stay home unless seeking medical care. Click here to get other helpful advice from the CDC.
What should I do if I am pregnant?
Although the overall risk of getting very sick is low, pregnant people are at an increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people. It is especially important that pregnant people take steps to protect themselves from getting COVID-19. The best place to read about COVID-19 and pregnancy is on the CDC website.
- Keep all of your regular doctor’s appointments while pregnant. Do not delay getting emergency medical care if you need it.
- Talk to your health care provider about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people that want a COVID-19 vaccine can get one.
- Visit the Healthy Choices Healthy Futures Toolkit for helpful information on what to do before, during, and after pregnancy.
What do I need to know about COVID-19 vaccines?
The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool for getting back to normal. Anyone 16 years of age and older can get a vaccine in the United States, including pregnant people. The best place to read about COVID-19 vaccines is on the CDC’s website.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They help protect you from getting COVID-19, and they will help protect you from getting very sick if you do get COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccines are being provided for free to everyone living in the United States, even if you do not have health insurance, or if you are not a citizen or legal permanent resident.
- While you may experience side effects from the vaccine, the vaccine cannot give you COVID-19. Some of the most common side effects include pain, redness, or swelling on your arm where you got the shot, and headaches, feeling tired, chills, and fever in the rest of your body.
- There are currently three different COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots, while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine requires one shot. The Pfizer shot can be given to those 16 and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shot can be given to those 18 and older. You can read more about the different types of vaccines on the CDC’s website.
- It takes time for your body to build protection. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the first shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks after your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
- We are still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines protect you. In the future, you may need to get an additional shot to keep you protected.
- You can find a place to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Illinois at the following websites:
What should I do if my child needs their annual check up (also known as a well care visit)?
Health care providers are still providing routine health care to their patients and are taking steps to make sure that you and your family are safe during in-person visits. They may ask you and your child to wear a mask during the visit if they are 2 years of age or older, or limit the number of people that can attend the appointment. Contact your health care provider to learn more about their safety practices.
It is important that your child stays up-to-date on their regular vaccines, especially during COVID-19. Click here to find more vaccine resources, including how to find a provider if you do not have one.
- You should schedule an in-person appointment with your doctor if your child needs a vaccination. Recommended vaccine information can be found on the CDC website.
- If you have a child that does not need vaccinations, the provider may be able to provide the visit over the phone or computer. Call your health care provider to learn about virtual appointment options.
What should I do if I lose my job?
Losing your job can be hard. There are a few important steps you should take right away to protect your family.
- You should apply for unemployment as soon as possible. Many people qualify for unemployment right now and there is no waiting period to begin receiving unemployment. You can click this link to learn more and apply or you can call 1-800-244-5631.
- If you had health insurance through your job you will need to get new insurance when you lose your job. You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period and be able to get low-cost insurance through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. Click here to learn more about special enrollment periods. You should also visit www.getcoveredillinois.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to see what insurance options may be available to you and to get help signing up for coverage.
- You might qualify for help paying for food through the SNAP program. You can click this link to find out how to apply for SNAP and get help completing your application.
What should I do if I need food for me and my family?
If you need food, there are a few important resources to directly access food right now.
- You may be able to get free food from a local food bank. Click here to find your local food bank and learn how to get food.
- You may be able to get help paying for food by applying for SNAP, also called food stamps. Click here to find out how to apply for SNAP and get help completing your application.
- Need Help Buying Food for Your School-Age Children? You may be able to get benefits through a special SNAP program if your child would usually be in school right now and received meals through the free and reduced meals program. This program is called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT. In order to get this special support, you must have a child between 3 and 17 years old or have a child between 18 and 22 years old who is enrolled in high school.
- If you are pregnant or caring for a young child, you might be able to get additional food by applying for WIC. Click here to find out more about WIC and how to apply.
What should I do if I have WIC?
If you are already enrolled in WIC, you can continue to receive WIC benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak. Call your local WIC clinic if you are having trouble using your EBT card or are struggling to gain access to your new EBT card. If you have other questions or do not know the number for your local WIC clinic you should call the Illinois Department of Human Services Helpline at 1-800-843-6154. If you require TTY services, call 1-866-324-5553.
What should I do if I need help finding diapers?
If you are having trouble finding diapers you should call 211 and ask for help finding diapers. If you are still having trouble finding diapers, call your local food pantry and ask if they have diapers. Many food pantries regularly share diapers with the community. Click here to find your local food pantry.
What should I do if I need child care?
Illinois Action for Children provides families with the resources they need to find affordable child care and early education programs. This includes helping families understand if they qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which helps parents that are in school or working pay for child care.
What should I do if I or someone in my family is experiencing violence or abuse at home?
You can call the state’s domestic violence hotline at anytime. The phone number is 1-877-863-6338. You can call 24 hours a day to receive free and private advice and support. If you require TTY services, call 1-877-863-6339.
What should I do if I or someone in my family is having mental health challenges?
The changes we are all experiencing in our lives as we try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are hard. It is normal to feel scared, sad, or lonely and there is help available. You should call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-6264 to talk to someone for free. This phone number is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
If you would like to learn more about the NAMI Helpline or find help for people in an immediate crisis, like people experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault, you should also call 1-800-950-6264 or click this link.
What should I do if I am experiencing postpartum depression?
Any person can develop postpartum depression during or after pregnancy. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Talk with your health care provider or a knowledgeable mental health professional if you have any questions about postpartum depression or its treatment.
For help, call this FREE 24-hour crisis hotline: 1-866-364-MOMS (1-866-364-6667)
What are the Signs of Postpartum Depression?
Everyone has these feelings or problems from time to time. When they occur during or after pregnancy and last for several days or weeks they could be signs of a more serious problem. If you are experiencing any of these problems or have questions, call your health care provider.
Since Your Baby’s Birth, Do You Sometimes Feel…
- Restless, angry or irritable
- Sad, depressed or feel like crying a lot
- Worthless or guilty
- Afraid of hurting the baby or yourself
- Overly worried about the baby or not concerned about the baby at all.
Or Do You Sometimes Have…
- Little or no energy
- Headaches, chest pains, rapid heart beat, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, or fast and shallow breathing
- Trouble sleeping well
- Poor eating habits (skipping meals and losing weight or over eating and gaining weight)
- Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
- Little interest in things you used to enjoy, including sex