Health officials: Arlington Heights coronavirus patient didn't travel abroad; District 214 halts trips

The man hospitalized at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights with a coronavirus infection had not recently traveled internationally, public health officials say, but they did not know how he might have contracted the illness.

Authorities also are continuing to identify and contact people who might have had close contact with the man and his wife, who also has the illness and is recovering while in isolation at home, Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Tuesday.

The couple in their 70s are considered to be in good condition.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the state health department, said Monday that home isolation will be the preferred treatment for patients not needing more intensive medical care.

Four employees of ABC 7 Chicago were kept away from work Tuesday out of concern they may have been exposed to the coronavirus after an ABC 7 reporter and photographer interviewed a food service worker Monday at Northwest Community Hospital, officials told Robert Feder.

A second photographer who shook hands with the first one (during a shift change in the news van) was told not to come to work. The wife of the first photographer, who also is employed at the station, was offered the opportunity to stay home with their family and chose to do so.

All four employees were awaiting the results of COVID-19 tests on the food service worker before they are expected to come back. ABC 7 would not confirm the names of the four, citing confidentiality.

Meanwhile, Lake Zurich Unit District 95 school officials on Tuesday told parents that two people in the District 95 community live with a Northwest Community Hospital employee who had had contact with the patient.

In an email to students' families, Lake Zurich Unit District 95 Superintendent Kelley Gallt said "we have been informed that some Northwest Community Hospital employees were asked to self-quarantine" and that two people who live with one of those employees have ties to May Whitney Elementary School in Lake Zurich and North Middle School in Hawthorn Woods.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Lake County Health Department, Cook County Health Department and the school district's consulting physician from Northwest Community Hospital all advised the two should have no restrictions in terms of school, work or other activities, Gallt wrote. But District 95 will continue to monitor the situation as health professionals recommend, she added.

A school spokeswoman said the information came from family members of individuals who were in self-quarantine. Northwest Community Hospital officials did not respond to Daily Herald questions about the information in the letter.

Also Tuesday, Northwest Suburban High School District 214 announced that it is canceling all international trips and tours planned in March, and it asked that students who've traveled overseas or are planning to, to tell the district about it.

"District administrators reached this decision (about canceling trips abroad) after thorough deliberation and assessment of the evolving circumstances involving the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)," an emailed letter to parents said. "District 214 did not make this decision lightly but believes this course of action is consistent with 214's ongoing commitment to ensure that the health and safety of students and our staff remains our top priority."

The letter said some trips could be rescheduled.

It also called for some students who've traveled abroad to now self-quarantine.

"In addition to those individuals returning from mainland China, students who have travelled to or had stopovers in countries that are considered Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or higher should self-quarantine for 14 days," the letter said.

The Level 3 countries are China, Iran, South Korea and Italy.

Arnold said the protocols regarding who should be tested for coronavirus infection remain the same.

"People in close contact with a confirmed case or recent international travel who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health care provider before going to the hospital so that the hospital can take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to others," she said. "After assessment of symptoms, contacts and travel, the clinician will determine if testing is appropriate."

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