virus testingCHICAGO – In response to the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is urging residents to take advantage of a new temporary testing site set up at the Bernard Horwich JCC.  

“Due to the increasing positivity rate in Chicago, we need to continue our strong testing and contact tracing operations to stay ahead of the virus and prevent a big outbreak,” Villivalam said. “Not only is this temporary testing site a way to make it easier than ever to get a fast, easy and free test, but it’s also key to being able to safely reopen our state and economy. Testing and contact tracing are vital to being able to put people back to work without compromising their health or that of their coworkers.” 

The temporary testing site is located at 3003 W. Touhy Avenue in Chicago. Testing will be available Monday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 16, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Simple nasal swabs will be used, and both drive-thru and walk-up testing are available. Anyone can get tested regardless of whether they exhibit symptoms. The tests are free, and the results will be available within four to seven business days. Residents should bring their insurance card but can still get a test without insurance. 

“Part of why this virus is so dangerous is the asymptomatic cases that spread silently through communities,” Villivalam said. “Most asymptomatic cases won’t know they have the virus unless they get tested. This site will allow anyone who may be worried about upcoming travel, visiting family, going to work or caring for children to get a test to make sure they don’t have COVID-19 and hopefully bring them a little peace of mind.” 

Category: Press Releases

contact tracing slows spread CHICAGO – In light of the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases around the country, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is asking anyone who is able to consider applying to become a contact tracer for the Chicago or Cook County Health Department.  

“Illinoisans have been and need to continue to do a decent job of limiting the spread of the virus by wearing a mask, socially distancing, and washing their hands for 20 seconds,” Villivalam said. “However, while we are doing relatively well compared to other states in the country, we can’t afford to relax our efforts. If you are able, please consider becoming a contact tracer to help us stop any new major outbreaks in our communities.” 

The Chicago Department of Public Health has received a $56 million grant to create the COVID Contact Tracing Corp and COVID Resource Coordination Hub, while the Cook County Department of Public Health has received almost $41 million in COVID-19 relief funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health via the FEMA Disaster Relief Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. 

Contact tracing is the multi-step process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have come into contact with a positive case of COVID-19 and connecting them to resources to help them during quarantine. The CDPH is looking to expand and diversify its workforce up to 600 people and the CCDPH is looking to expand its workforce to 400 people. Bilingual and multilingual speakers are needed to help with outreach to all of Chicago’s diverse communities. Contact tracers in Chicago will earn $20 per hour, with supervisors able to earn $24 per hour. 

Individuals interested in applying to become a contact tracer can find the IDPH Contact Tracing Program interest form on IDPH’s website. More general information is available on the City of Chicago’s website and the CCDPH website

Category: Press Releases

Chicago CTA Rail WrapCHICAGO – Acting in his capacity as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) has sent a letter to all mass transit agencies in Illinois to inquire about the steps they are taking to protect both their passengers and employees.

“Public transit is essential to people’s lives and livelihoods,” Villivalam said. “Its continued availability is crucial to reviving our state’s economy, but without proper safety precautions, our buses and trains could also help spread COVID-19.” 

Villivalam, along with several of his colleagues, have asked the state’s transit agencies to explain their COVID-19 safety precautions. They’ve asked the agencies to detail their requirements and procedures for testing, tracing, temperature checks, sanitation, and employee pay. They’ve also encouraged the agencies to provide more information about safety procedures like mask requirements and capacity limits.

State Senator Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles), Minority Spokesperson of the Senate Transportation Committee, added that the Committee has a responsibility to the public to ensure that the appropriate steps are being taken by mass transit agencies to protect their health and safety.

“In order for mass transit riders to comfortably return, there must be assurance that all necessary steps are being taken to ensure that not only the staff is being monitored and tested to prevent the spread of infection, but also that there is regular cleaning of all areas and surfaces that riders come in contact with,” said Sen. DeWitte.

Villivalam and his colleagues are looking forward to working with the state’s transit agencies to ensure the safety of all Illinoisans as they return to work and reopen the state economy.

Villivalam is especially concerned about mass transit, as many working class families rely on buses and trains for all of their travel needs, including going to work and school.

Category: Press Releases

avoiding covid 19 scamsCHICAGO – Recent reports of identity theft and unemployment fraud have prompted State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) to urge anyone who may have been targeted to file a report. 

“Using a global pandemic to take advantage of people is unethical and illegal,” Villivalam said. “If you think you’ve been a victim or target of fraudulent activity, report it immediately.” 

Reports surfaced last week of individuals receiving KeyBank debit cards with an accompanying unemployment benefit letter despite never having applied for assistance. The Illinois Department of Employment Security suspects these mailings may be fraud attempts.

IDES currently believes they’re part of a nationwide fraud scheme targeting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program applicants. 

IDES staff is currently working with individuals whose identities have or may have been compromised by a scammer. The department is also partnering with local and federal law enforcement to catch and prosecute the perpetrators. 

“If you have received a debit card in the mail and have not applied for assistance, don’t activate the card. Call IDES immediately at 1-800-814-0531 to report potential identity theft,” Villivalam said. “We can’t let these scammers get away with their schemes while people are struggling to overcome the pandemic. I would also encourage anyone who has been targeted to check your credit reports for suspicious activity.” 

When you have filed a report, the Illinois Attorney General is offering information and tips free of charge for those who think their personal and financial information may be at risk. For assistance, consult their Identity Theft Resource Guideor call the toll-free Identity Theft Hotline at 1-866-999-5630.

Victims of fraud are also encouraged to place a fraud alert through one of the three major credit bureaus should any suspicious activity be found. Individuals should visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for helpful tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft. 

Category: Press Releases

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