IDPH: 4 additional COVID-19 cases in Illinois

Updated: Mar. 9, 2020 at 5:01 PM CDT
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ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Public Health and Chicago Department of Public Health are reporting four more people in Illinois have tested positive at the IDPH lab for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Two of the cases, a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 70s, are both family members to the sixth case, a woman in her 50s who acquired the virus on a cruise ship and is an employee at Jacqueline B. Vaughn Occupational High School.

The third new case is a woman in her 50s from California who traveled to Illinois.

The fourth most recent case is a woman in her 70s who returned earlier in March from an Egyptian cruise.

All four of these new cases are in isolation and in good condition, according to IDPH.

CDPH and Chicago Public Schools continue investigating the case at the Jacqueline B. Vaughn Occupational High School, reaching out to all students, faculty and staff, and monitoring the health of everyone who might have been exposed. In addition, testing for COVID-19 has begun on students and staff from the school and so far, no additional positive cases have been identified at the school, although more laboratory tests are pending.

Based on CPDH guidance, CPS has begun a thorough cleaning of Vaughn Occupational and removed the buses that serve Vaughn students for additional cleaning according to CDC-recommended cleaning protocols. In addition, high traffic areas in all schools will also be cleaned, and schools will begin receiving additional cleaning wipes and hand sanitizers beginning Monday.

As a reminder, individuals who have visited Vaughn since Tuesday, February 25 are being asked to stay home unless seeking medical care or given other direction. This applies to all students, staff, and service providers who were in the building since February 25.

Members of the school community and other individuals who were not at Vaughn between February 25 and March 6 do not have restrictions at this time, even if they have been in contact with someone at Vaughn. They can attend work and school, as long as they are not sick.

“While we continue to implement measures to reduce the spread of the virus, as we anticipated, we are starting to see more COVID-19 cases in Illinois,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Although these most recent cases are close contacts to a confirmed case or have a history of travel, we want people to prepare for the virus to spread in the community. The virus is not circulating widely in Illinois at this time, but we must prepare now to reduce the impact to our communities if it becomes widespread.”

According to IDPH, public health officials have been working closely with hospitals and health care providers in Illinois to give guidance on identification of cases, isolation, testing and infection control practices.

IDPH and CDPH have given guidance to long-term care facilities, schools, universities, businesses and organizations on how to prepare for wider spread of the virus.

“The City of Chicago continues to work closely with our federal, state, and local partners to respond to this situation and investigate every confirmed case, doing our due diligence to connect with their close contacts,” said Allison Arwady, M.D., Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “We expect this to be a long process and we are continually adjusting and updating our response plan to ensure it is responsive to the needs of our communities. We are committed to keeping Chicago’s residents and visitors informed as we go along and we remain confident that the preparations we’ve done for moments like this will serve to protect the health and wellness of our communities.”

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth released the following statement on Monday:

Public health officials are working to identify and actively monitor individuals who were in contact with both patients in an effort to prevent additional transmission. They will reach out to individuals who may have been exposed.

Governor JB Pritzker requested that hospitals across the state implement more testing. Illinois was the first state to provide COVID-19 testing and Gov. Pritzker announced two more IDPH labs in Carbondale and Springfield that will be able to test specimens this week.

Illinois’ first two previously confirmed cases of COVID-19. Both patients made a full recovery.

Symptoms reported among patients include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Public health officials are encouraging the public to not alter their daily routines and remain vigilant about keeping germs from spreading, by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands with warm soap and water and staying home when sick.

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