Activists call on CHA to provide adequate COVID-19 testing, PPE for seniors

Not enough attention has been paid to residents living in the senior apartments, the activists said Monday.

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Helen Chambers, Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments president, left, and Rosemary Coleman stand behind a cart full of masks and gloves that’s being donated to the seniors at Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments.

Helen Chambers, Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments president, left, and Rosemary Coleman stand behind a cart full of masks and gloves that’s being donated to the seniors at Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Community activists Monday called on the Chicago Housing Authority to provide adequate COVID-19 testing and more personal protective equipment for residents living in the agency’s senior buildings.

While CHA officials said some equipment has been passed out to curb the spread of the deadly virus, the activists said the agency needs to do more.

Nursing homes and health care facilities across the country have made headlines for coronavirus-related deaths, but not enough attention has been paid to seniors living in public housing, the activists said at a news conference at the CHA’s Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments, 1633 W. Madison St.

“A lot of our seniors are too old to get out,” Rosemary Coleman, president of the CHA’s local advisory council said, calling for mobile testing units.

“Some can hardly walk. We don’t have cars,we can’t catch buses and we can’t stand in long lines to be tested. So, we need a unit to come out and test us for this virus. Some [residents] are asking to be tested, but they have no other way of [getting to test].”

The Rev. Robin Hood, a community organizer and board member of Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere, said the CHA also needs to start providing masks, gloves, and hand-sanitizer to tenants and employees for at least a week every month.

The Rev. Robin Hood speaks to reporters about the Chicago Housing Authorities handling of senior residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rev. Robin Hood speaks to reporters about the Chicago Housing Authorities handling of senior residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“These are basic simple things that should be in the buildings anyway,” Hood said. “You can’t ignore these senior buildings because they are a hotspot for coronavirus. If the CHA, or the city, would have acted on it immediately, we wouldn’t even be hearing about people sharing the virus because it would have been controlled. You can’t control it if you don’t do anything about it.”

During the news conference, MOVE passed out donated masks and gloves for residents at the Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments.

Residents in senior buildings have been provided surgical-style masks and will be given cloth masks in the near future, the CHA said in a statement Monday. Other efforts, including well-being calls, have also been put in place for the CHA’s aging population, the agency said.

“The health and safety of all our residents are of the highest priority of CHA and the City of Chicago,” the statement read. “CHA has been regularly notifying senior residents of vital information and measures designed to protect them.”

Helen Chambers, Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments President, pushes a cart full of face masks and gloves toward the entrance of her building

Helen Chambers, Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments President, pushes a cart full of face masks and gloves toward the entrance of her building.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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