State officials say that although the risk of contracting the corona virus is low here in Illinois, they are prepared should the virus become more wide spread.
Governor J.B. Pritzker held a press conference in Chicago yesterday and along with state public health and safety officals, outlined steps they are taking to halt the new virus.
A respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 was first spotted in China and has spread to virtually every continent.
Pritzker said that while the risk to the general public remains low, state and local agencies and officials are using every tool at their disposal to ensure the public health and safety are well-guarded.
“Our top priority is keeping Illinoisans safe. To this point, Illinois has successfully contained the virus to two confirmed cases, and both patients have fully recovered and returned home. Illinois was the first state, and remains just one of a few states nationally, able to test for the virus known as COVID-19. Next week as a precautionary measure, and so we can test for, ans respond to any potential cases, we are expanding to two additional testing labs beyond Cook County to increase our testing capacity statewide, one in Central Illinois and one in Southern Illinois.”
Pritzker says that voluntary testing at hospitals to gather statistics about the virus’ spread will begin in Illinois, as in other populous states, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pritzker says that the best advice for residents, is observing well-known precautions against the flu.
“I want to be clear. The best thing the general public can do at this time is to continue with the same precautions that you take during flu season with renewed vigilance. What we know about cOVID-19 is that it causes mild illness in otherwise healthy people, but more serious illness in the elderly and infirm populations. That it is spread person to person and that it is most contagious when a person is more symptomatic.
As the CDC has said, therapeutics and vaccines are under development, but these community mitigation’s, like hand washing and staying home when you are sick, are our first lines of defense.”
Pritzker says that the state’s public health and emergency response agencies have been conducting simulated responses to potential outbreaks.
“Illinois has one of the nation’s leading public health systems and our experts have been proactively preparing for this situation. Our Illinois state and local officials have decades of experience in developing responses and preventative measures for outbreaks. We are ready to put the full weight of the state behind a full fledged response when needed.”
State Public Health Director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, says that it is not too late for residents to get flu shots, and that fewer cases of the flu mean more available medical treatment, if needed, for COVID-19.
According to the Associated Press, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said officials have worked with federal authorities to screen international passengers arriving at Chicago’s airports. She said she’s had frequent conversations with mayors of major cities to share action plans and learn from one another to develop a coordinated, nationwide response.
The state plan of action was announced just one day ahead of the first reported death in the U.S. from COVID-19 in Washington state. Officials announced the death Saturday but gave no other details. President Donald J. Trump said that the victim was a female in her late 50’s who had a high medical risk. Trump said that healthy Americans should be able to recover in the event they contract the new virus.