| March 6, 2020

Illinois Sets Up Coronavirus Hotline

Nqaba Matshazi

Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world. Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world.

Following confirmation that a fourth person has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced a cocktail of measures to prepare the state should there be a widespread breakout that includes the setting up of a toll free number Illinoisans can call to get information about the virus or report suspected cases.

The hotline details

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), together with the Illinois Poison Control Center set up a hotline for Illinois residents who have questions about the coronavirus.  Residents in Illinois outside of Chicago can call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@illinois.gov.

The KFVS 12 website reported that the toll-free number, which can be used throughout the day, seven days a week, was established to answer questions that local health departments, clinicians, and the general public may have regarding the coronavirus. Furthermore, the hotline and email address were created to provide new information, answer questions, share facts about symptoms, and provide up-to-date information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Chicago residents may call 312-746-4835 between Monday and Friday during business hours. They may also call during evenings, weekends, and holidays, or email coronavirus@chicago.gov.

Other measures to prepare for widespread breakout

widespread breakout

The IDPH announced that they were working with local, state and federal health partners to take all preventative steps available to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19.

IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said they were engaging different agencies in order to “coordinate a robust response and take every possible step we can to prepare” for the coronavirus.

“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,” Ezike said.

IDPH said that in addition to these measures, it was also providing guidance and recommendations to local health departments, hospitals, EMS, clinicians, and other partners in a variety of areas, it was assessing for COVID-19 in patients based on risk due to travel or close contact to a confirmed case and it was also evaluating and reporting persons under investigation.

Other measures include:

  • Infection control practices
  • Precautions for schools, universities/colleges, and students
  • Isolation/quarantine
  • Prevention steps for caregivers and close contacts
  • Specimen submission and testing
  • Recommended strategies for personal protective equipment use
  • Emergency department call triage
  • Emergency Medical Services and 911 call center response
  • Providing routine briefings to the General Assembly
  • Communicating with the public by creating a coronavirus disease webpage, issuing news releases, hosting press conferences, conducting interviews, and providing information on social media.

A fourth coronavirus case in Illinois

Meanwhile, on March 2, the IDPH announced that a fourth Illinois patient has tested positive for COVID-19. The department said the tests were conducted in Illinois and resulted in presumptive positives for COVID-19. The positive test results will have to be confirmed by a CDC lab. 

The IDPH said the fourth person to test positive for the coronavirus was a woman in her 70s who is the spouse of the third case – a man in his 70s.  The woman has since been quarantined at her home and she and her husband are said to be in good condition.

“Public health officials are working to identify and actively monitor individuals who were in contact with both patients in an effort to prevent additional transmission. Public health officials will reach out to individuals who may have been exposed,” a statement from the IDPH said.

The first two patients to be diagnosed with the disease have since made a full recovery.

Coronavirus is called novel because it has not been observed in its current form prior to its spread in Wuhan, China, starting in December 2019. 

Officials in the U.S. say six people have died due to the coronavirus disease;  105 cases have so far been reported.

In Illinois, officials insist that right now, the virus has not been found to be spreading widely in the U.S., and the risk to the general public remains low. 

Drugmakers are burning the midnight oil to come up with a vaccine for the virus. Moderna Inc, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc, and Novavax Inc are some of the companies that have announced they are working to develop vaccinations against the virus.

The World Health Organization has also announced that Gilead Sciences’ drug, remdesivir  could help treat the deadly coronavirus.

So far, globally, 3,130 people have died due to the novel coronavirus; 92,275 cases have been recorded. 

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