The Illinois Department of Public Health, local health departments, and public health partners throughout Illinois, and federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are responding to an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus called COVID-19 that was first identified in December 2019 during an outbreak in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 has spread throughout the world, including the United States, since it was detected and was declared a public health emergency for the U.S. on January 31, 2020 to aid the nation’s health care community in responding to the threat. The World Health Organization announced March 11, 2020 that the spread of coronavirus qualifies as a global pandemic.
In addition, Gov. JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation March 9, 2020 regarding COVID-19 that gives the state access to federal and state resources to combat the spread of this newly emerged virus.
The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported January 21, 2020 and the first confirmed case in Illinois was announced January 24, 2020 (a Chicago resident). The first cases outside Chicago and Cook County were reported March 11, 2020 in Kane and McHenry counties. The current count of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available on the CDC webpage at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html. Illinois case totals and test results are listed here.
Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 appears to be mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Preliminary data suggest older adults and people with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems seems to be at greater risk of developing serious illness from the virus.
If you are sick and have respiratory symptoms, such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, and muscle or body aches, stay home and call your medical provider. Keep in mind there is limited treatment options for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill can isolate at home. While at home, as much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people. Those who need medical attention should contact their health care provider who will evaluate whether they can be cared for at home or need to be hospitalized.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people, and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.
Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. However, the emergence of novel (new) coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, have been associated with more severe respiratory illness.