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Illinois Pandemic Assistance Program Extended Through June

Illinois residents who are quarantining due to COVID-19 can continue to rely on community health workers.

Funding for the state's Pandemic Health Navigator Program has been extended through next June. Illinois residents can request help--and specially-trained community health workers can respond.

Madeline Robel is the Pandemic Health Navigator at The Project of the Quad Cities. She's the first point of contact fielding local requests.

"The most common, I would say, is household items or grocery items. So we talk on the phone or via text a little bit about what they might need, and then I'll go about handling that request. For example, if it's groceries, we will order the groceries or household items for them and have it delivered to them."

The Project gets an average of 7 requests a day, or as many as 15 a day when COVID cases spike. Statewide, the Pandemic Health Navigator Program has helped more than 29,000 people since March.

Robel says Illinois residents can help themselves by getting vaccinated and being aware of the risk level in the area.

"And just kind of pay attention to what your needs might be, if you were to have to go into quarantine. If you have been affected by COVID, you can always reach out to us and we can help you through that process. Because it can be difficult to even take care of those daily needs--those are things that become a barrier when you're not able to leave your house."

The program is completely free, and local responders can be found at helpguidethrive.org.

The program was initially funded through October. But as the pandemic continues, that's been extended through next June, using dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan.

Aaryan Balu first set foot in audio journalism at WTJU Charlottesville and WRIR Richmond, and now works as WVIK Quad Cities NPR's Fellowship Host.