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State Department of Public Health announces precautions to limit spread of coronavirus

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials announced Wednesday, Feb. 26, that the agency is working with local, state and federal health partners to take all preventive steps available to limit the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

While COVID-19 is not spreading in communities in Illinois or the U.S., IDPH is working to ensure Illinois is prepared, officials said. 

There have been two confirmed cases in Illinois of the disease that has affected more than 82,000 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. More than 78,000 of those cases are in China, where the disease originated.

IDPH is currently conducting hospital assessments to determine all available capacity in the event more people need medical care.  IDPH is also assessing the availability of personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns and masks for health care 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.  

“As additional cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed in an increasing number of countries, the Illinois Department of Public Health is working with health care providers and local public health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other state agencies to coordinate a robust response and take every possible step we can to prepare,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. 

“Illinois has already led the charge, becoming the first state to be able to test for COVID-19 at state laboratories. As we move forward, we are working across city, state and federal agencies to identify all available resources and ensure we are using every tool to keep our communities safe.”

Since January 2020, containment efforts by IDPH and partner agencies include:

  • Implementing testing for COVID-19 in Illinois.
  • Setting up a statewide hotline for questions about coronavirus, 1-800-889-3931.
  • Providing guidance and recommendations to local health departments, hospitals, EMS, clinicians and other partners in a variety of areas by sharing information about assessing potentially infected patients and offering strategies for planning and response.
  • Communicating with the public by creating a coronavirus disease webpage, issuing news releases, hosting press conferences, conducting interviews and providing information on social media.

While efforts to contain the number of COVID-19 cases will continue, Illinois will also utilize community mitigation strategies.  

Community mitigation aims to slow the spread of a novel virus in communities using nonpharmaceutical interventions such as urging people to stay 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. Preventive actions should be practiced by Illinoisans at all times, but especially as IDPH continues to monitor the potential spread of a new virus.

For more information about how you can prepare for the spread of the virus and steps you can take to stay healthy, visit the CDC page on nonpharmaceutical prevention measures.  While these materials reference influenza, the information and actions you can take to prepare yourself and your community still apply.

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