CHICAGO (WMBD/WGN) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined public health officials on Friday to announce efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to provide COVID-19 testing in-state, allowing IDPH to produce results within 24 hours. Next week, the administration will expand testing statewide, with new testing labs in the central and southern regions to join the existing testing lab in Cook County.
Following the recommendation of the CDC, the state will also partner with hospitals in every region to engage in voluntary testing, which Pritzker said will allow officials to diagnose new cases quickly and prevent any further community spread. Under the plan, certain emergency departments will soon begin testing select patients who present with influenza-like symptoms for COVID-19.
“Our top priority is keeping Illinoisans safe and we are using every tool and resource at our disposal to prepare for this virus and contain any spread,” Pritzker said. “This is a coordinated effort with state, city and local entities working together to put the full weight of our government behind this response.”
To date, Illinois has had two confirmed cases of COVID-19 and both individuals have made a full recovery. According to the governor’s office, the immediate health risk to the state remains low.
In very rare cases people infected with the virus have died.
“For over a month, Chicago has been working daily to strengthen and refine our response to this situation, contain the virus, and protect our residents from any harm,” Lightfoot said. “While the chances of contracting coronavirus remain extremely low, we will continue to closely monitor this situation as it evolves, and take appropriate preventive and precautionary measures as needed in coordination with public health agencies, and our many community and healthcare partners.”
Current efforts by state and city officials to prevent and limit the spread of the coronavirus include:
- Airport screening and monitoring health of travelers returning from China
- Investigating confirmed cases of coronavirus and monitoring friends and family who may have been exposed
- Planning community measures that can help limit the spread of disease, like having ill individuals stay home (including housing and transportation needs)
- Providing regular guidance to hospitals and healthcare professionals, including information on infection control, personal protective equipment (PPE) supply planning, and clinical evaluation
- Working to expand local laboratory testing for COVID-19
- Developing and distributing guidance for childcare facilities, schools, universities, businesses, community- and faith-based organizations, among many others