Lansing faces COVID-19 with humor and resolve

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Restaurants and churches adapt, neighbors help each other, and participation in Census 2020 is strong

A compilation of articles by Carrie Steinweg, Katie Arvia, and Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (March 31, 2020) – Winter is already a slow time for many restaurants, but the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak thinned crowds even further when Governor Pritzker announced the dine-in ban on Sunday, March 15. Dine-in establishments and bars in Lansing and beyond closed their dining rooms at the end of the business day on March 16.

Restaurant adjustments

Many added curbside pick-up or delivery to help make up for the lack of sit-down customers. Some reduced hours or limited their menus. The Lansing Journal reached out to as many establishments as possible and included them on a continually updated page on our website, along with encouragement for local residents to patronize them as much as possible.

Like so many other restaurant owners, Lynne Cartwright, owner of Lynnie Ques Airport Bar & Grill, said she doesn’t know what to expect. “It’s scary. I hope all the businesses can survive it,” she said. But Cartwright isn’t panicking. “I think if we all work together, we can do this.” Lynnie Ques is located at 3249 Glenwood-Lansing Road in Lansing. Patrons can call 708-474-7837 for curbside pick-up or delivery.

Mancino’s owner Amy Todd echoed that sentiment. “We all need to help one another,” she said. As a business owner and as Director of the Lansing Area Chamber, Todd understands the value of community support. Knowing that shutdowns and restrictions are affecting more than just the restaurant industry, she offered extended specials on Mancino’s grinders as a way of helping people affected by closings and layoffs. Customers can call 708-474-6337 to place an order for curbside pick-up at 3300 Ridge Road.

The Ridge Road Subway (3513 Ridge Road, 708-895-9555) is observing reduced hours until further notice. They are accepting orders for pick-up, 3PDelivery, or TO-GO. “We do not have in-restaurant dining at this time, but you can order ahead with our remote ordering app or on line at Subway.com for your tasty Sub Sandwich,” said owner Krista McSwiggan.
Dozens more local dining options are listed on our Supporting Local Restaurants page, and restaurant owners are invited to continue to send us updated information as further adjustments become necessary.

Local groceries

While shoppers at big-name supermarkets have reported crowds and lines, Lansing’s small business groceries offer a less combative approach to purchasing needed supplies. Prices in smaller marts are typically somewhat higher than what chain stores are able to offer, but for people who want to simply run in for a few items, a small, local option is perfect.

The only thing Three Roosters Grocery (3224 171st Street) has sold out of is bottled water, and Manager Daisy Herrera doesn’t plan to restock that because it is too expensive right now. Three Roosters’ produce, meat, and canned goods are selling at normal prices, except in a few cases where vendors raised the price and Three Roosters had to do the same. The restaurant in back of the store is also still cooking food for take-out.

La Rosita grocery story (3315 Ridge Road) is open with slightly reduced hours—8:00am–7:00pm all week. CEO Josefina Murgui said, “If you know of anyone who may need assistance, please do let me know.”
Cerro Grande Supermarket (19064 Burnham Avenue) is another local option, and they too have a small restaurant inside that offers take-out meals.

Spiritual connections

Lansing churches also began exploring a variety of ways to continue to preach the Gospel and keep people connected. Though stereotypical churches are known more for tradition than technology, the Lansing faithful found a variety of ways to gather virtually for services on Sunday morning, March 22—Facebook, Zoom, Twitter, and YouTube became creative ministry tools.

“Now’s a perfect time to figure out how to use technology,” Saad Abbasy encouraged members of Cornerstone Church as they logged in to wearecornerstone.org/Live or tried to follow on the church’s Facebook page. Abbasy was part of the team that made changes to Cornerstone’s website and communicated with members about how to connect during what Pastor Michael Eberly called “this crazy, weird season.”

The first online service at Grace Church began with a familiar hymn, “It is Well with my Soul,” chosen specifically for its message of peace during a time of storm. Grace even managed to offer an online children’s message.

Living Word Church used Facebook Live to lead worship, which allowed viewers to interact rather than simply watch—Facebook emojis were posted during the live streaming, and comments were posted both live and later.

Pastor Dan Roels’ video message on March 29 was titled “A Restful Quarantine” and explored the quarantine that Noah was forced to observe in the ark— “Without enough social distancing. For over a year. With in-laws and with animals. A lot of animals.”

Overall, churches in Lansing are finding humor and opportunity in adjusting to new ways of being the church. Visit our Lansing Churches page to review updated info or to add your own church’s online info.

Being counted

Lansing residents gained an early lead over neighboring communities in terms of 2020 Census participation. Many residents reported how quick and easy the process was, with the majority opting for the online option (the census can also be completed using phone or paper options).

Frank Kiefor shared his experience and thoughts via Facebook: “Got [the invitation] yesterday and completed it today. Very important and necessary that everyone completes the census 2020! No excuses!”

That sentiment was echoed by Irene Sepiol, also via Facebook: “Got my letter, went online, filled out the questionnaire, submitted it, and was in done in 10 minutes. No excuse not to fill it out!”

The Reyes family knew already in December that they would be counting five people in their household in April. (Photo provided)

With headlines dominated by COVID-19, census reminders have been relegated to the back burner, which is worrisome for some communities. Because census data is used to determine federal funds, grants, and support, communities throughout the United States, including Lansing, benefit most when everyone is counted. Responding to the census ensures that each community receives their fair share of federal funds for schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and more.

From left: Ryan, Hayes, and Kristin Russell completed the 2020 Census and completed our brief survey about the experience:
1. Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, easy as pie.
2. Did you choose to take the census online, by phone, or by mail? Online. Millennials do everything online, right?
3. Did you take the census the same day you received the invitation? No, we did not. It sat on our counter for 5 days before we took it.
4. How long did it take you to complete the census? The census took us about 10 minutes to complete.
(Photo provided)

Additionally, census data determines each state’s representation in the House of Representatives, which affects the number of electors each state has in the Electoral College, which ultimately elects the president and vice president.

In a March 11 statement, the US Census Bureau stated that a Census Bureau COVID-19 Internal Task Force has been established and will “continuously monitor the situation.” The bureau also recognized that while completing the census is a “constitutional obligation,” the health and safety of both their staff and the general public is “of the utmost consideration and importance.”

As of March 29, the national census response rate is 31.6%, Illinois’ response rate is 34.2%, and Lansing’s is 34.9%.

Related

More photos of the ways Lansing is responding to COVID-19 are available at: