CHICAGO — The city’s largest animal shelters are sending out an emergency call for foster families amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Anti-Cruelty Society, PAWS Chicago, One Tail at a Time and others have urged Chicagoans to sign up to become emergency foster families should they be needed.
The shelters are worried their staff won’t be able to care for animals in-house during a quarantine or that animal owners might become ill and need someone to care for their pet.
But fosters can be particularly helpful now because many people are working from home and staying indoors to prevent spread of the virus, the shelters said.
Foster families typically take in and care for pets, like a dog or cat, for a limited time until the animal is adopted, returned to the shelter or given to another foster family.
Here’s how you can help:
- PAWS, the city’s largest no-kill animal shelter, created a foster “call tree.” Supporters can sign up online to get a call and become a temporary foster home for animals in case there is a triggering event, like a quarantine.
- One Tail at a Time is asking people to sign up online to become foster homes for dogs in need during the crisis.
- The Anti-Cruelty Society has created the Emergency Relief Foster Program that will provide training for on-call foster families. Those who wish to foster can sign up online.
Coronavirus is spreading in Illinois, with 93 cases reported as of Sunday afternoon. But the Centers for Disease Control have said there’s currently no evidence pets can spread COVID-19.
Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.
Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.
The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
- Shortness of breath
If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.
How To Protect Yourself
The CDC only recommends those are already sick wear facemasks because they help you avoid spreading the virus.
Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:
- The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
- Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.
What To Do If You Think You’re Sick
Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.
If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where corona is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been advised to stay home.
Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
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