WHO Declares Pandemic to Fight COVID-19

March 11, 2020

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic based on the global spread of the virus. At a media briefing, WHO Director-General said, “This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector. So every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight.”

The latest WHO situation report announced five new countries/areas reporting cases of COVID-19: Brunei Darussalam, Mongolia, Cyprus, Guernsey and Panama. There are more than 118,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 114 countries/areas, with nearly 81,000 cases in China.

The WHO also issued guidance to help keep schools and school children safe. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities. In two additional technical guidance documents by the WHO cover critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19.

Today, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced six new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, bringing the total to 25 people who have tested positive for the virus. The new cases involve five people in Chicago—80s male, 70s male, 70s male, 50s female, 40s, male; and a 50s male in Lake County—the first such case in that county. Yesterday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Kane County Health and the McHenry County Department of Health announced the first Illinois residents outside of Chicago and Cook County to test positive at the IDPH laboratory for COVID-19. Currently in Illinois, there are 76 persons under investigation pending.

As a precautionary safety measure local, state and national organizations are cancelling or postponing various events that draw large crowds.

This afternoon, both the Illinois House and Senate announced that they are cancelling next week’s session days and are scheduled to be back in session March 24. Senate President Don Harmon issued a statement on the cancellation of the Senate session days:

“When the state association for emergency doctors cancels its Capitol visit citing public health concerns, it should give us all reason to re-examine our schedules and priorities. Given the recommendations for social distancing as a safeguard to slow the spread of this virus, the Illinois Senate is going to do its part. The Friday, March 20 session day had already been cancelled. The Senate will also cancel the March 18 and 19 session days. We will constantly monitor the situation and make future decisions based on best practices and advice from the state’s public health and emergency preparedness professionals.”

Also today, the city of Chicago announced the cancellation of its St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled Saturday, March 14. Media is also reporting that a worker at One Two Pru has the COVID-19. If confirmed, this would be Chicago’s first case at a major downtown office building.

Current CDC figures show a total of 938 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. in 38 states and Washington, D.C., with an additional 49 cases among repatriated persons to the U.S. Twenty-nine deaths have been reported.

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