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.
Riverside Village President Ben Sells told the Landmark that he was one of 117 northern Illinois mayors who participated in a conference call on March 1 facilitated by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who laid out the city’s response to the virus and where information can be accessed by the public.
Sells said one of the best online sources of information about the virus can be found at Chicago.gov/coronavirus, which includes the latest updates on the virus’ presence in the area, FAQs and links to other online information sources.
All Riverside police and firefighters recently received kits containing masks, eye protection and gloves, said Sells, village officials are also moving to protect employees.
Sells said plastic glass will be installed at the reception windows at the village offices inside the Riverside Township Hall and that hand sanitizing stations will be placed at the train station and just outside the village offices, once the village can source the stations, which are sold out and for which there are already waiting lists.
“Schools, businesses, and employers should encourage all employees to practice the above preventative measures,” wrote Sells in an email. “Also take time to review emergency operations plans, including identification of essential business functions, teleworking, and flexible sick leave policies.”
On March 2, Sells said he met with Village Manager Jessica Frances, Police Chief Thomas Weitzel and Fire Chief Matthew Buckley to make sure the village’s first responders have the equipment they need to combat contracting the virus.
“Riverside’s police and fire departments are coordinating with surrounding communities to provide emergency services in a safe and professional manner,” Sells said. “Help them out – if a responder asks you to wear a mask or use hand sanitizer please do so. They are only trying to keep you, and themselves, healthy.”
The 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 on March 2 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.
“The risk to the communities of Illinois is low,” Ezike 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.
Bob Uphues contributed to this report.