Illinois uncovers 1st new virus case outside Chicago area

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois confirmed its first coronavirus cases outside the Chicago area Tuesday, as the state's infection tally hit 19, and the governor raised questions about whether large-scale gatherings such as the city's upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebrations can go ahead.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and health officials said at a news conference in Chicago that two of eight new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in people in suburbs outside Cook County, and that neither knowingly traveled to an affected area or had contact with an infected person.

Given the concerns about the possibility of viral transmission at large gatherings, Pritzker said government officials and organizers of this weekend's popular St. Patrick's Day celebration in Chicago are discussing its fate. An announcement was expected.

'œAs you saw, Boston and Dublin have both canceled their St Patrick's Day celebrations,'ť Pritzker said. 'œI want to keep people safe and I think we've got to follow the guidance that medical experts give us."

The new coronavirus that has sickened thousands across the globe causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and can sometimes be fatal.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

State and Chicago public health officials reported eight new cases Tuesday, including a woman in her 60s from west-suburban Kane County and a teenage male from McHenry County northwest of Chicago. Neither had traveled to an area affected by COVID-19 nor had any connection to someone previously diagnosed.

'œAs anticipated, we have reached the point where we are likely to see additional cases, reflecting additional spread within the communities each day forward,'ť Pritzker said.

The other new cases were all reported in Cook County, including a male in his 70s, a woman in her 60s, a woman and a man in their 40s; and two Chicago residents, men in their 40s.

"Public health officials are investigating the travel history of all the new cases, as well as any contacts with a known case," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state public health director. 'œAll the new cases are in isolation, either at home or in a hospital, and are doing well.'ť


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


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