The city of Highwood on Chicago’s North Shore is home to dozens of restaurants and bars in its dense downtown. But since the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing stay-at-home order in Illinois, the city’s businesses have had to make some major changes.
“The restaurants have quickly adapted and did a 180, going the opposite direction, and made changes,” said Highwood Mayor Charlie Pecaro. “You’ll see on Friday nights and Saturday nights, the delivery lines and pickup lines are long. Businesses that didn’t focus on pickup or delivery are now overwhelmed. I mean, everyone’s adapting quickly.”
Pecaro says community members have also stepped up to raise money or volunteer to help people struggling during the pandemic. And the Highwood city government is taking a closer look at what services are essential, and what can be postponed or scaled back.
“How do you help the businesses? How do you make the city survive? We have a high Latino population, how do you help them? How do you get the word out?” Pecaro said. “How do you assist those [people]? You know, how do you communicate to them to where they can find help? Small cities can’t provide a lot of those services.”
Much of that outreach is being done by the city’s social service organizations, like the Nuestro Center run by Family Service of Lake County, which provides programs for kids and seniors, as well as counseling and English classes for adults.
“We want to make sure that they don’t run out of money. And they don’t run out of help,” Pecaro said. “And I think that’s where the community has just stepped up huge. Whether it’s giving money or their time to help out.”
Covid Across Chicago
How is the novel coronavirus impacting local businesses, residents and social service agencies across the city and region? And how are local leaders handling the crisis? We hit the streets to answer those questions and more in our ongoing reporting series, COVID-19 Across Chicago. See where we’ve been and what we’ve discovered in this overview.