Illinois Declares Disaster Proclamation Over Coronavirus Outbreak

Four additional cases were reported in Illinois Monday, creating a new total of 11

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a disaster proclamation Monday over the coronavirus outbreak as an additional four cases were reported in Chicago.

A total of 11 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Illinois while more than 24 deaths and 600 total cases have been reported in the U.S. Along with Illinois, 13 other states have declared states of emergency amid the outbreak, Pritzker said.

"We will have all the tools at play and rapidly available to deploy," he added.

The disaster declaration announced Monday, Illinois' version of a state of emergency, is the first step toward obtaining federal funding to help with the outbreak.

At a news conference Monday, Pritzker urged residents to help themselves, their families and communities.

"We are one community here in Illinois, and community members take care of each other," Pritzker said. "Don't let fear replace level-headedness. You have responsibilities during this crisis too, and it's important to live up to them."

Two of the additional patients announced Monday are relatives of a classroom aide at Chicago's Vaughn Occupational High School who previously tested positive for the virus. The aide, a Chicago resident in her 50s, recently traveled on the Grand Princess — the cruise ship on which 21 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. Her two relatives, a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 70s, are not employed at Vaughn, said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

After returning home on Feb. 24, the classroom aide went to her job at Vaughn and last reported to work on March 4. As a result, CPS officials have advised all students, faculty and staff to only leave their homes if seeking medical care and have closed the school through Wednesday, March 18.

A third patient, a California woman in her 50s who traveled to Illinois, remains in good condition, Dr. Arwady said. The fourth patient announced Monday is a woman in her 70s who recently returned from a cruise in Egypt where additional travelers contracted the virus.

"I do want to be clear that this news is not surprising," Dr. Arwardy said, referring to the four new confirmed cases. "In fact, in many ways, it is an example of the public health system working as it should."

Health officials said that there is no sign of transmission at Vaughn, adding that those in close contact to confirmed patients are at the highest risk for contracting the virus.

Illinois’s seventh coronavirus patient, a Chicago man in his 60s, remains hospitalized in serious condition, health officials said Sunday, adding that they believed the case is the first community-transmitted case in the city of Chicago.

Dr. Michael J. Ryan of the World Health Organization answered questions on Monday about the spread of the coronavirus.

Amtrak announced Sunday it placed a train out of service after a Missouri college student, who tested positive for the coronavirus after studying abroad in Italy, flew into Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and took Amtrak to St. Louis.

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.

More than 20 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus, with over 500 people diagnosed with the virus. The outbreak has impacted daily aspects of American life, from the plunging stock markets to members of Congress self quarantining.

State officials announced March 2 that a woman in her 70s, the spouse of a man who previously tested positive, was also diagnosed with the coronavirus, marking the state's fourth case.

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.

Multiple parents of students at Chicago's Vaughn Occupational High School expressed concern Friday after school district officials announced a classroom assistant contracted the coronavirus, the sixth case in Illinois. NBC 5’s Natalie Martinez reports.

While the virus isn't circulating widely in the Chicago community, health officials are preparing for the virus to spread, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"I do want to encourage people to start planning now for what could be if the situation expands again." Dr. Ezike added. "We'd rather just prepare in advance as opposed to being caught flat-footed."

Starting Tuesday, Pritzker's administration will offer a daily press conference on the state of the response to the coronavirus.

All major insurers in Illinois have agreed to cover testing for the coronavirus, Gov. Pritzker said, stating he also remains concerned for people who become ill, self-isolate or take a significant amount of time off work.

The IDPH 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," Gov. Pritzker said. That number is 1-800-889-3931.

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