February 26, 2020
With the world on the verge of a coronavirus pandemic declaration, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) is working with local, state, and federal health partners to take all preventative steps available to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although currently the virus is not spreading in Illinois or the U.S., IDPH says it is committed to working across local, state, and federal agencies to ensure Illinois is prepared. Thus far, there have been only two confirmed cases in Illinois.
IDPH is conducting hospital assessments to determine all available capacity in the event more people need medical care. IDPH also is assessing the availability of personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, and masks for healthcare workers. Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to provide COVID-19 testing in-state and IDPH is continuing to work on increasing capacity for testing to ensure rapid results.
IDPH notes that while efforts to contain the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide will continue, Illinois will also utilize community mitigation strategies. Community mitigation aims to slow the spread of a novel virus in communities using non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) better known as "everyday preventive actions" including staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, frequent handwashing, and routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and objects.
In the absence of medications or vaccines, community mitigation measures are the first line of defense against highly transmissible infectious diseases. IDPH urges Illinoisans to practice preventative actions at all times.
Meanwhile on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a travel warning (level 3) for South Korea, recommending that people avoid nonessential travel to the area. This is the same travel warning the CDC issued for China last week. Iran, Italy and Japan have all been issued practice enhanced precautions (level 2) travel alerts.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest situation report highlighted four new countries with reported COVID-19 cases: Algeria, Austria, Croatia, and Switzerland. More than 78,000 confirmed cases are in China, with more than 2,900 confirmed cases outside China in 37 countries. The CDC reports 14 confirmed U.S. cases and 45 confirmed cases among persons repatriated to the U.S.
Additional resources can be found on IHA’s COVID-19 webpage.