Dear Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA) participants, supporters, and partner organizations:
We are writing to acknowledge and address the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19) pandemic, and in particular how it is spreading and emerging in Chicago. As providers of harm reduction services we are committed to ensuring our participants have access to safe and plentiful harm reduction materials at all times, and especially in times of crisis. However, we also recognize that the folks we work with may be especially at risk for the spread of viral diseases like COVID-19.
Testing and isolation are the best ways to decrease the spread of the virus. In the absence of access to testing centers (which we anticipate will be the case for most of the people we work with), the following precautions can help slow the spread of the virus::
- Clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (approximately the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday, two times)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- If you are sick, and able to, stay home, unless you are seeking medical care
- Look out for symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing
- While sick, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with cleaning products that
are 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering when going out in public
- Masks should extend above the nose and below the chin to completely cover the mouth and nostril and also fits snugly against the sides of the face and be secured with ties or ear loops
- Cloth masks should be made of multiple layers of fabric, ideally be machine washable, and not overly restrictive to breathe through
CRA recognizes that our participants need access to life-saving overdose prevention supplies and information, even in the face of this growing viral threat. As such, we will continue to operate services at ALL outreach and drop-in locations, with the following precautions in place:
- Outreach mobile van sites will operate as window-service only – staff on the van will use gloves when gathering and handing out supplies, will change gloves in-between every person, and will ensure the van is stocked with 60% alcohol hand sanitizer for both staff and participant use. All surfaces in the outreach mobile vans will be cleaned continuously during shifts with cleaning products that are 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Staff will also wear face masks at all times when interacting with participants, and will don a new mask at the beginning of each shift.
- Drop-in sites will operate as door-service only – staff at the site will use gloves when gathering and handing out supplies, will change gloves in-between every person, and will ensure 60% alcohol hand sanitizer is available for both staff and participant use. All surfaces at drop-in sites will be cleaned continuously during shifts with cleaning products that are 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Staff will also wear face masks at all times when interacting with participants, and will don a new mask at the beginning of each shift.
- Vaccine services will continue to be available at certain locations.The above prevention precautions will be taken for vaccines in addition to utilizing PPE such as face shields and gowns as available and provided by the city of Chicago.
- Unwell and at-risk employees will be sent home immediately and unwell employees can return to work only when testing confirms there is no COVID-19 infection.
Additional information for our participants:
- Please take a look at this handout prepared by the Harm Reduction Coalition on protecting yourself:
HRC Guidance Document
- We will be encouraging everyone at site to stock up on extra supplies in case we need to decrease or shut down services – in the event that this happens, we will IMMEDIATELY post announcements on social media channels, our website, and outreach sites
For more information on the spread of COVID, both locally and nationally, please visit www.chicago.gov/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
If you are in need of extra support – such as safer sex or drug use counseling or referrals for treatment or other social services – please call 312-953-3797 and we will make sure you get connected.