COVID-19 Update; Two Calls March 13

March 12, 2020

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Call on COVID-19 takes place Friday, March 13, from 1-2 p.m. The COCA Call will provide an update on COVID-19 and review infection prevention and control recommendations. Due to expected high call volume, the CDC asks participants to access the call in a group setting. The COVID-19 update can also be viewed through Facebook Live.

The Illinois Dept. of Human Services will a call/webinar on Friday, March 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. for an update from state officials on COVID-19. The event is intended for not-for-profit, community-based organizations. The session is limited to 1,000 participants, so use a group setting, if possible. RSVP to

Due to COVID-19 concerns, access to Chicago City Hall is being limited to essential personnel. As a result, next Wednesday’s IHA Breakfast with the Mayor and City Council has been postponed.

The CDC updated its guidelines for collection, handling, and testing clinical specimens from persons under investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19. The CDC now recommends including the combined nasopharyngeal swab and oropharyngeal swab (NP/OP swab) specimens as an option for the upper respiratory specimen collection. Testing authorization must be obtained before submitting a specimen. Approval can be obtained through a local health department or through the state Communicable Diseases Program staff. An Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) Communicable Diseases Laboratory Test Requisition must accompany specimens. Patients with underlying co-morbidities are at higher risk for severe illness and mortality. Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, including infections such as influenza, prior to testing for SARS-CoV.

Yesterday, President Trump took action to increase the availability of respirators by authorizing the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Labor to take all appropriate and necessary steps to obtain them.

Current CDC figures show a total of 1,215 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. in 42 states and Washington, D.C., with an additional 49 cases among repatriated persons to the U.S. Thirty-six deaths have been reported. In Illinois, there are 25 positive cases with 76 PUI.

The latest WHO situation report announced four new countries/areas reporting cases of COVID-19: French Polynesia, Turkey, Honduras and Côte d’Ivoire. There are more than 125,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 117 countries/areas, with nearly 81,000 cases in China.

In his remarks at today’s media briefing, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus outlined a four-pronged strategy:

“First, prepare and be ready. There are still 77 countries and territories with no reported cases, and 55 countries and territories that have reported 10 cases or less. And all countries with cases have unaffected areas. You have an opportunity to keep it that way. Prepare your people and your health facilities.

Second, detect, prevent and treat. You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. That means robust surveillance to find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission.

Third, reduce and suppress. To save lives we must reduce transmission. That means finding and isolating as many cases as possible, and quarantining their closest contacts. Even if you cannot stop transmission, you can slow it down and protect health facilities, old age homes and other vital areas – but only if you test all suspected cases.

And fourth, innovate and improve. This is a new virus and a new situation. We’re all learning and we must all find new ways to prevent infections, save lives, and minimize impact. All countries have lessons to share.”

Additional COVID-19 resources are available on IHA’s website.