Franklin County, DeKalb County, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been identified as case studies that have put or funded programs in place to help people at risk of COVID-19 to obtain essentials.
1. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)- U.S. Federal Government
- In April 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the federal government, under President Trump, had secured $955 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL). These funds were designated to “help meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- According to HHS’ website, these grants would fund home delivered meals, respite care, care services, among other areas of support needed by this group. In the words of HHS Secretary Alex Azar, “This nearly $1 billion in new funds will help communities support older adults and people of all ages with disabilities in staying healthy, safe, and independent during the COVID-19 pandemic…. The aging and disability networks supported by these programs are delivering meals, ensuring safe transitions home following hospitalizations, and providing other essential services to older Americans and Americans with disabilities during this challenging time…”.
- Of the total amount, $480 million was set aside for home delivered meals for older adults, as well as drive-throughs and “grab-and-go” meals. Another $200 million went to the Home and Community Based Services that will cater for household chores assistance, grocery shopping, personal care assistance, and transportation to essential services such as hospital visits.
- $85 million was pegged for the Centers for Independent Living to give “direct and immediate support and services” to individuals living with disabilities.
2. DeKalb County- Illinois
- The Daily Chronicle reports that the Elder Care Services of DeKalb County received $17,000 in grants from the Illinois Department of Aging for the aging population of DeKalb County.
- According to the agency’s Executive Director, Tara Russo, these grants were meant to help provide the senior residents with “food, emergency supplies, prescription medication, and anything else they may need“.
- Russo further reports that Elder Care Services has teamed up with DeKalb County Community Gardens and the Voluntary Action Center to deliver groceries and fully prepared meals to at-risk seniors.
- The article also mentions Lehand Drugs, a pharmacy within the county, that has offered free delivery of medication refills, home medical equipment, and oxygen to the senior residents.
- Additionally, the Daily Chronicle notes that 6 grocery stores have introduced senior-only shopping hours. These include Schnucks, Hy-Vee, Target, Dollar General, Walmart, and Jewel-Osco. The designated hours are early mornings, ranging from 6am to 9am. For Schnucks, the senior-only shopping hour is daily between 6am to 7am, while for Target and Walmart, senior-only hours are between 8am and 9 am, but on Wednesdays only.
3. Franklin County- Ohio
- In Franklin County, Ohio, the Columbus Public Health compiled a list of COVID-19 resources available to the public. This document details Dollar General, Target, and Whole Foods Market as grocery stores that have designated shopping hours for seniors and other “vulnerable guests“. For all three, the shopping hours are an hour before the public.
- The resource document also details the Columbus Muslim COVID-19 Grocery Order initiative that offers to do grocery shopping and delivery to high-risk individuals such as the elderly, those who are immuno-suppressed, or have chronic conditions. The service notes that money, or lack thereof, should not deter this group from calling and seeking assistance.
- Also, Franklin County notes down the HealthWell Foundation that announced a COVID-19 fund that is aimed at offering reimbursements (up to $250) for “ancillary costs” associated with COVID-19 for high-risk individuals. These costs are listed as food, medication, transportation costs, and telehealth co-pays.
Case Studies of Grocery Stores/Pharmacies With Programs to Protect Vulnerable Individuals
The case studies of grocery stores and/or pharmacies in Ohio that have programs that protect vulnerable individuals have been grouped according to the following policies; senior-specific shopping hours, free delivery services, and/or curbside pick-up services.
Senior- Specific Shopping Hours
- 10TV reports that in Columbus Ohio, some of the grocery stores that have introduced senior-only shopping hours include Dollar General, Fresh Thyme, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Meijer, Target, and Whole Foods. The specific timings range from 6am to 9am.
- WTOL11 also adds Monnette’s Market and Walt Churchill’s grocery stores in Toledo Ohio to this list. The senior-only shopping hours are 8am to 9am and 7am to 9am for Monnette’s and Walt Churchill’s respectively.
1. Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
- Cincinnati’s The Enquirer reports that the Ohio Board of Pharmacy approved of curbside sales by medical marijuana dispensaries. For the 51 legal marijuana dispensaries, curbside sale and pickup was touted as optional.
- To fulfill curbside pickup orders, patients or caregivers had to review the orders and security personnel were required to be present. Additionally, the Board required that all transactions be visible on security footage.
- The article reports that of the 100,000 Ohio residents that are permitted to use medical marijuana, a whole 30% were elderly patients over 60 years. They are deemed as high-risk individuals due to their weak immune systems, which the article reports as “qualifying medical conditions“.
2. Grocery Outlets
- NCB4i reports that Aldi, Whole Foods, Costco, Sam’s Club, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Meijer, Target, and Walmart also introduced curbside pickup services. For Whole Foods, Sam’s Club, and Costco, however, curbside pickups are only available for members.
- Another article by NCB4i reports on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, that has introduced an online option for Ohio residents who receive SNAP benefits. According to the article, residents can shop online and pick up the items in a car in what the article dubs the “click and collect” option.
- Governor Mike DeWine notes in this tweet, “To help ensure our most vulnerable Ohioans have access to food while helping to keep potential exposure to COVID-19 to a minimum, we have been working with our federal partners, the @USDANutrition, and the grocery stores on a “click and collect” option to get groceries”.
- NCB4i also reports that the same grocery stores that offer curbside pickup services have also introduced free delivery services. These are Aldi, Whole Foods, Costco, Sam’s Club, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Meijer, Target, and Walmart. As in the case before, only members of Whole Foods, Sam’s Club, and Costco are eligible for this service.