Health officials announce fourth Illinois coronavirus case
Gov. JB Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike (right), director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, announce the state's fourth case of novel coronavirus during a news conference Monday in Chicago. (Credit: illinois.gov)
Woman is spouse of third patient; both in ‘good condition’
By BEN ORNER
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois health officials on Monday announced the state’s fourth case of coronavirus in a Cook County woman who is married to a man who was diagnosed with the virus over the weekend.
Both are in their 70s. The man, whom the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Saturday as the state’s third case of the virus, is hospitalized and in isolation. His wife is quarantined inside her home and complying with health officials.
The IDPH said both are in good condition.
“Federal, state, county and hospital-level public health officials are working to actively identify any individuals who were in contact with this couple,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday during a news conference in Chicago.
The woman’s test results will be sent to a lab at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be officially confirmed.
The novel coronavirus, which originated last year in Wuhan, China, has been given the official name COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. Illinois’ two previous cases of COVID-19, a married couple in January, have since fully recovered. All four cases have been in Cook County.
The IDPH began a “sentinel surveillance” program Monday in northern Illinois to test for possible community spread of the virus. People with flu-like symptoms who test negative for the flu or other common respiratory illnesses can choose to be tested for COVID-19.
“It is with that kind of surveillance that we will be able to see if we have circulating virus in our communities,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of IDPH.
She said IDPH plans to expand the program to central and southern Illinois. Along with voluntary testing, Ezike said, 286 people in Illinois are being actively monitored for the virus.
“The risk to the communities of Illinois is low,” she said, “and we will continue to work collaboratively with our local health departments and our federal partners to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to be ready for whatever is around the bend.”
Illinois was the first state to test for COVID-19 when it opened a lab in Cook County last month. Pritzker said Monday that two labs in Springfield and Carbondale will open in “the next few days.”
“The best thing that the general public can do at this time is to continue taking the same precautions you take during flu season with renewed vigilance,” Pritzker said.
They include covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, avoiding touching your face, staying home when you are sick and cleaning frequently-touched surfaces.
As of Monday evening, more than 90 people across 12 states had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Six people have died in Washington, the only state with fatalities. Five of those who died ranged in age from the 50s through 80s, some with “underlying medical conditions” that made them more vulnerable.
The death toll worldwide surpassed 3,000 on Monday, with more than 89,000 people infected across 58 countries.
Illinoisans who think they might have the virus may call the state’s COVID-19 hotline (1-800-889-3931) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. IDPH also published a webpage of frequently asked questions: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus.