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State Provides Hotel Shelter for High-Risk Asylum-Seeker Families in Need of Space to Quarantine After Potential Exposure to Measles

State continues to advance response for New Arrivals and meet emergent needs with limited federal resources
CHICAGO—In response to recent measles cases at a City of Chicago-run shelter for Asylum Seekers in Pilsen, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) began sheltering families in need of quarantine to a hotel for temporary shelter stays on Monday, March 11. As of midday Thursday, March 14, 26 households comprised of 98 family members, 48 of which are children, have arrived at a Chicago-area hotel, where they will quarantine for 21 days to curb the spread of measles.
The first measles case in Illinois this year was a long-term citizen residing in Chicago who has since recovered. Since 2010, there have been 3,476 reported measles cases in the United States, including 56 in Illinois. “All people in Illinois deserve to be treated with dignity and, when a public health issue emerges, it’s the responsibility of government to keep people safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We continue to deploy State resources when and where we can, meeting the most emergent needs as compassionately and efficiently as possible.”
The families were identified as particularly vulnerable by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), including those who are not able to receive measles vaccination, such as infants under the age of one and pregnant people.
The hotel has quarantine capacity for up to 110 families. Those currently going to the site to quarantine have been exposed to measles but do not have measles or measles symptoms. The hotel is being used solely for temporary quarantine shelter and is not open to the public. IDPH is working closely with the Cook County Public Health Department (CCPHD) to monitor symptomatic individuals and address any medical needs that may arise, in addition to a coordinated vaccination effort for those in shelter.
Measles is an acute viral illness characterized by fever, cough, and rash. While highly contagious, measles vaccination is very effective in preventing infection. A single measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine results in 93-98% protection and two doses of vaccine results in 99% protection, which the vast majority of Chicagoans and Illinoisans have received. “IDPH is actively working with IDHS, as well as the federal CDC, to provide support to local public health partners as we address the measles outbreak that reflects an ongoing national rise in measles this year,”said Dr. Sameer Vohra, IDPH Director. “Our staff has been working with IDHS to ensure that those exposed individuals most at-risk for severe measles complications and their families have a safe place to quarantine. While the vast majority of Chicago and Cook County residents are vaccinated for measles and not at risk, we strongly support the call from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) for all unvaccinated residents to get the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine now. Measles is highly contagious and can cause serious complications for those who are not immunized.”
The hotel shelter has 110 rooms of various configurations and passed an Infection Prevention Review conducted by both IDPH and CDPH. Each hotel room has its own heat and A/C exhaust, and do not share a common HV/AC system, making it an appropriate space to quarantine from measles. The hotel-based shelter will operate during quarantine in accordance with IDPH and CDPH Infection Prevention Protocol and the City of Chicago’s New Arrivals Shelter Operating Guidelines.
Ongoing State Support
In addition to the new hotel-based quarantine shelter, IDHS opened a State-supported shelter at a former CVS in Little Village at the beginning of the year. At these two shelters, and all New Arrivals shelters across the City of Chicago, IDHS is providing residents with a variety of wraparound services and supports to enhance independence and onward movement. Last November, Gov. Pritzker announced a $160 million data-informed investment to improve the Asylum-Seeker response, in addition to the $478 million that had already been earmarked by the State to support New Arrivals over Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024.
“Since the first Abbott bus arrived in August 2022, the State welcomed those impacted by this humanitarian crisis with care and respect,” said Dulce M. Quintero, IDHS Secretary Designate. “As the rate of New Arrivals sent to Illinois from the Southern border has increased over recent months, we continue to stretch whatever funding we can to meet the emergent needs of our new neighbors. We thank our community partners who ensure our work is grounded in cultural competency and provides the support needed for a pathway to independence.”
Intake Center
As part of the $160 million data-driven investment in November, to date, $25 million has been used to improve the Asylum-Seeker response and address bottlenecks, including opening an Intake Center in February. Co-located with the City of Chicago’s Landing Zone, the Intake Center offers New Arrivals immediate wraparound services and helps connect people with sponsors, or with an alternate destination to continue along on their journey.
Since the State began funding diversion and outmigration efforts, over 5,200 people have reunited with family or friends in the Chicagoland area and in other U.S. states and cities, reducing the number of people going through the shelter system. The State has been funding New Life Centers and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago to provide support at the bus Landing Zone, outside, as of early November 2023 and at the Intake Center.
Work Permits
IDHS, in partnership with The Resurrection Project, pro-bono attorneys, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), continues leading large-scale Employment Authorization Documentation and Temporary Protected Status (EAD/TPS) clinics to help eligible New Arrivals obtain work permits.
As of early February, all New Arrival shelter residents were screened and, if eligible, given the opportunity to attend an EAD/TPS workshop.
Workshops have now opened to former New Arrival shelter residents as well as residents who have received State-funded Asylum Seeker Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ASERAP) rental assistance.
Since the first clinic in mid-November 2023, a total of 4,341 people have submitted EAD/TPS applications with State support. To date, 1,932 people have received their work permits.

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