The U.S. Centers for Disease Control continues to closely monitor
an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by 2019-nCoV that was
initially detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.
Visit the CDC website for preparedness checklists, a flowchart to identify and assess nCoV, guidance about infection control, clinical care, preventing and managing healthcare personnel exposures and home care.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued updated guidance for schools. Students returning from mainland China on or after February 3, 2020 should not attend school for 14 days after their last contact in China. Absences for this purpose should be excused. Learn more.
There is an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness centered in China caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, abbreviated COVID-19. This virus is able to spread from person-to-person and cause severe disease and death. The potential global public health threat posed by this virus is high, but right now, the immediate risk to most Americans is low. Most cases are still limited to mainland China and not spreading in the community in the United States. The greater risk is for people who have recently traveled to China or their close contacts.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment for Americans may change. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of Feb. 19, COVID-19 has caused 75,204 illnesses globally. Of these, 74,280 illnesses have been in China and 924 illnesses have been in 25 other countries. Deaths from novel coronavirus total 2,006 in China and 3 outside China.
What CCDPH is doing
To date, there have been two identified cases of COVID-19 in the Chicago area. The first case was announced on January 24, 2020, in a person who had traveled to Wuhan, China. The second case was announced on January 30, 2020, in a close household contact, who was also the first case of human-to-human transmission in the United States. Following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, both patients were released from home isolation on Feb. 14, after hospital isolation ended Feb. 7, and free to return to work and regular activities.
Cook County Department of Public Health is coordinating with Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the local, state and federal levels, as well as hospital and emergency response partners, regarding suspect cases, situational awareness, and guidance for healthcare providers, travelers, Persons Under Investigation (PUIs), and the general public.
Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) serves 2.5 million residents and 127 municipalities in suburban Cook County (excluding Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie and Stickney Township, which have their own state-certified health departments.
CCDPH activities have included:
- Identifying and monitoring all contacts of the two known Chicago cases and arranging evaluations and testing if they become ill, to contain transmission.
- Making determinations as to whether people fit the definition of Person Under Investigation, or PUI.
- Advising hospitals about what specimens to collect.
- Sharing information with public, partners and staff via email, website and social media.
Information for Healthcare Providers
If you are a healthcare provider, please:
- Be on the look-out for people who recently traveled from China with fever and respiratory symptoms.
Current epidemiologic risks include a history of travel to Wuhan City, China, or close contact with a person under investigation (PUI) for 2019-nCoV while that person was ill.
- Report suspect 2019-nCoV cases immediately (within 3 hours) to CCDPH by calling 708-633-4000 and follow the prompts.
- Take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures if you are caring for a 2019-nCoV patient.
- If you have had close contact (within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more) with a confirmed case and develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, and tell them about your symptoms and exposure.
- See CDC Information for Healthcare Professionals for more information.
Information for Schools
Due to recent acceleration of 2019-nCoV transmission across China and in accordance with current federal guidance, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends the following:
- Any student returning from mainland China on February 3, 2020 and onward should not attend school for 14 days after their last contact in China.
- Absences for this purpose should be excused.
- Family members of these students should not attend work if they also traveled to mainland China.
- Students who did NOT travel to China, but who have family members who did travel to China, are NOT to be excluded from school.
This interim guidance does not apply retrospectively to students who were in China during the previous 14 days and are already in the U.S., or those being managed as part of a contact investigation.
- Students who returned from mainland China before February 3, 2020 can remain in school.
- Students who returned from mainland China before February 3, 2020 and develop respiratory symptoms including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, should seek medical care right away and call their medical provider in advance, so they are prepared. IDPH recommends avoiding travel to China.
If you have questions or concerns, please call CCDPH at 708-633-4000 and follow the prompts. You may also call the Illinois Department of Public Health coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.
What the public can do
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to those of flu and may include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and the prevention is the same. Last year, flu caused 35.5 million infections and 34,200 deaths. Currently, the risk of coronavirus in the community is low. Flu is here right now.
Getting an annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your family from flu and flu-related complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or worsening of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, or diabetes. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to provide full protection. Since flu season could begin in October and last into May, it’s best to get vaccinated now. People who are at increased risk of developing serious complications from flu should definitely get a flu vaccine; as should their caregivers.
Limit the spread of illness
In addition to getting vaccinated for flu, encourage family members to take these common sense measures to protect against flu and other respiratory illnesses.
Practice the three C’s to stay healthy and prevent germs from spreading at home, work and school:
Clean: properly wash your hands frequently
Cover: cover your cough and sneeze
Contain: contain your germs by staying home if you are sick