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Lightfoot: $1.2 Million For COVID-19 Mental Health Project, No Date To Reopen Lakefront

CHICAGO (CBS) -- To deal with the mental health issues faced by many during the pandemic, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a series of initiatives to help people affected by COVID-19.

The mayor said the city will spend $1.2 million and will partner with four mental health organizations to help residents with an array of issues that came about during the pandemic.

"Many of our Chicagoans have been struggling with heightened levels of anxiety, depression and trauma, sometimes, unfortunately, with tragic consequences," Lightfoot said. "We have not only lost our mobility, but in many ways our sense of security, whether from the stress of job security, the safety of loved ones or the forced isolation that's come from social distancing."

The funds will allow the expansion of access for people with serious conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or co-occurring disorders.

The four partner organizations – Friend Health, Healthcare Alternative Systems, Thresholds, and Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare – will expand to Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services and Community Support Teams (CST) with a focus on Chicago's south and west Sides.

"These teams will provide services to persons who may benefit from a higher level of support and will increase community-based mental health services in communities of highest need across Chicago," said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. "This is so important right now because COVID-19 can exacerbate preexisting vulnerabilities in those with mental health conditions."

While exercise is connected to mental health, Lightfoot didn't say when she would reopen the city's lakefront. Lightfoot said the May 29 date is when the state's stay-at-home order will expire. She said while restaurants may be reopening, large public spaces won't open just yet.

"The magic date to the extent it exists is when we hit our metrics that we set out on public health. It's when we see that we made significant progress on ICU beds, hospitalizations, number of COVID patients in ICU. It's when we see the level of testing get to where we want it consistently everyday, it's when we see the positivity rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 far below a certain threshold," Lightfoot said, who added the 606 Trail and other public spaces won't be available.

Lightfoot said as long as she has to admonish people for congregating and violating the stay-at-home order, she's not ready to lift the ban.

"Trying to educate people compliance, talking about why it's not safe to congregate, and then having me stand at a podium like this and rattling the sabre and saying this is a problem, we have to change this, and all of that, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears." Lightfoot said. "I'm very worried about a spike and a surge in cases when we do open back up. And so we're going to work to try to mitigate against that."

Residents can call 312-747-1020 for more information and to find out where they can access services.

This is a developing story.

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