Chicago Public Schools Employee 6th Coronavirus Patient in Illinois

The woman, who remains hospitalized in stable condition, was last present at work on March 2

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A Chicago Public Schools aide has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, state and local officials said at a news conference Friday evening.

The patient — a Chicago resident in her 50s — is a special education classroom assistant at Vaughn Occupation High School on Chicago's North Side, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

The woman, who remains hospitalized in stable condition, recently traveled on the Grand Princess - the cruise ship on which 21 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.

After returning home on Feb. 24, the patient went to her job at Vaughn Occupational High School, a specialty school for students with special needs and disabilities. The unidentified employee was last present at work on March 2.

CPS Supt. Janice Jackson announced classes at the school will be canceled while the investigation continues.

Jackson and other local officials stressed that they're working to come up with a clear plan for students and employees.

"While I understand that parents across the district may be concerned by this development, I want to stress that this is currently an isolated case," Jackson said.

More than 100,000 people have been sickened and more than 3,400 have died from the rapidly-spreading virus worldwide.

Chicago health officials are working to find additional exposures and identify anybody who remains at risk, said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Gov. Pritzker said coronavirus tests remain free, and his office has spoken to all insurance companies in Illinois to make sure they are offering the necessary care.

Pritzker added while the risk remains low to the general public, state officials are paying very close attention.

"In a population of 12.7 million people in the state, we are monitoring it closely, but I do think that six cases is a good number to focus on," Pritzker said.

Illinois' fifth coronavirus patient, a Vanderbilt University student who studied abroad in Italy, was released from a Chicago hospital Friday and planned to be quarantined at home.

President Donald Trump signed the $8.3 billion Coronavirus response bill into law on Friday.

Illinois officials announced Monday that a woman in her 70s, the spouse of a man who tested positive over the weekend, was also diagnosed with the coronavirus, marking the state's fourth case.

CPS also addressed questions about whether the Chicago school district would consider closing schools as coronavirus concerns persist.

In January, two Chicago residents, a husband and wife, were diagnosed with the coronavirus. The wife had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, to care for a relative.

Both patients were treated at AMITA Health St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates and have since made a full recovery.

Last month, Illinois became the first state to conduct its own tests for the coronavirus, allowing for quicker results. The state also opened this week two additional testing labs in central and southern Illinois, Pritzker said.

Properly sanitizing your phone can help protect against illness, including coronavirus.

On Friday, Gov. Pritzker said voluntary surveillance testing is being conducted at seven hospitals in Cook County and several others across the state to monitor for the presence of the virus.

The Illinois Department of Public Health launched a statewide hotline for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, "to answer any questions from the public or to report a suspected case," Pritzker said. That number is 1 (800) 889-3931.

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