Four new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Illinois, bringing the state's total to 11 as Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a disaster proclamation Monday over the outbreak.
The new cases involve two women in their 50s and 70s who are relatives of a Chicago Public Schools aide diagnosed on Friday. The women are not connected to the school the aide worked at, however, health officials said.
The third case is a woman in her 50s, who is from California but traveled to Illinois. The fourth case is a woman in her 70s who returned earlier this month from an Egyptian cruise linked to COVID-19 cases.
All four women were in good condition and in isolation, health officials said.
"I do want to be clear that this news is not surprising," said Dr. Allison Arwady with the Chicago Department of Public Health. "In fact, in many ways it is an example of the public health system working as it should."
Cinespace in Chicago said it was informed Monday evening by FOX that a crew member from the show "neXt" tested positive for the virus. It remains unclear who the person is or if they are among the four recent cases, but FOX executives and other tenants at Cinespace "have confirmed they are currently disinfecting all production offices and stages."
"The health and safety of our staff and tenants are of the utmost importance," Cinespace said in a statement. "Cinespace is fully adhering to the city of Chicago health directives issued last week. We distributed these directives to all film/television production tenants and all Cinespace employees. We remain at the service of both our City and our tenants. We are committed to implementing any and all mitigation measures deemed necessary going forward. We are inquiring with FOX as to whom to direct further questions regarding the matter."
Disney Television Studios said it was notified of the crew member's diagnosis.
"We are working closely with the CDPH to identify and contact all individuals who came in direct contact with the crew member, and are taking precautions to protect all who work on our productions," the company said in a statement.
The virus has caused more than 24 deaths amid 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.
Health officials said that there is no sign of transmission at Vaughn Occupational High School, adding that those in close contact to confirmed patients are at the highest risk for contracting the virus. Last week, officials announced an aide - a Chicago resident in her 50s - had tested positive after recently traveling on the Grand Princess — the cruise ship on which 21 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.
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.
"We recognize that this may raise concern among the high school community but to date there is not sign of transmission at the school," Arwady said. "Testing underway for students and staff who have shown symptoms."
As of Monday afternoon, health officials said they have not identified anyone from the school who is seriously ill.
At a news conference Monday, Pritzker warned residents that the outbreak "is going to affect your daily life."
"I know that this is a difficult time for people as we try to understand and respond to something this new," he said. "It’s reasonable to feel apprehension."
Outside of the four new cases and the CPS aide, at least eight other people have tested positive for the virus in the state so far.
Illinois’ 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.
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.
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.
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, Pritzker said.
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.