State activates alternate housing facility in southern Illinois

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information provided by the Office of the Governor

MT. VERNON, Ill. (April 22, 2020) – At the request of the local government, the State of Illinois has activated a pre-staged alternate housing facility in Jefferson County to meet the identified needs of COVID-19. Jefferson County authorities have indicated a recent spike in positive cases of COVID-19—including more than 17 cases linked to a long-term care facility—will require additional resources to help slow the spread of the virus.

The purpose of an alternate housing facility is to provide a place where people can go to safely isolate or quarantine in order to not expose others in their home. These facilities will allow individuals to remain close to home, near family and their healthcare provider of record. However, it is important to note these facilities are not designed to provide medical care for individuals.

“We are grateful to have an alternative housing option for Jefferson County,” said Amy Harrison, Jefferson County Health Department Administrator. “Occasionally when we as the County Health Department place someone under an isolation or quarantine order, it is difficult for that individual to maintain due to the setup of their home, or they may have a family member that is vulnerable due to an underlying health condition. This would be a perfect option for either of those situations.”

“The State of Illinois has identified thousands of additional rooms in northern, central, and southern Illinois that can be activated once local jurisdictions exhaust the resources they have on hand to meet the needs of their community,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “This concept is truly a collaborative effort between state and local governments to ensure we have all the tools and resources necessary to help our residents, and effectively slow the spread of this deadly virus.”

The local health department is the responsible party for referring individuals to an alternate housing facility. The local health department will screen each individual prior to entry to determine health status and eligibility, monitor the individual throughout the stay, and determine when an individual can safely return home.

State and local collaboration is key for a successful mitigation of the virus. Additional services are provided at the local level to limit the transmission of the virus. Cleaning services, security detail, facility management, and food services are among the items needed to ensure the facility runs safely for all those involved.

There are many agencies involved in the establishment of a state alternate housing facility, including, but not limited to:

  • Illinois Emergency Management Agency
  • Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Illinois Department of Human Services
  • Illinois National Guard
  • County Public Health Departments
  • Local Emergency Management Agencies
  • Local Law Enforcement
  • Local Fire Departments
  • Local/Regional Hospitals
  • Local Volunteer Organizations

An alternate housing facility is really an extension of a person’s home. Public health experts agree that staying at home and limiting exposure to others is the best way to slow the spread of this virus. Frequent hand washing, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, and maintaining at least a six feet distance from others are also recommended

For health questions about COVID-19, call the IDPH hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email [email protected].