Pritzker: Suburban husband and wife with coronavirus in good condition
A husband and wife in their 70s recently diagnosed with the coronavirus are in good condition, with the man in isolation at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights and the woman remaining at home in isolation, state officials said Monday.
The couple are the third and fourth people in Illinois with confirmed cases of coronavirus, but state health authorities say they are monitoring nearly 300 others with potential exposure to the illness.
If more cases develop in Illinois, the preference will be to keep patients at home when their condition allows it, instead of hospitals where they could be in contact with others, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Ezike and Gov. J.B. Pritzker emphasized that the risk to the public remains low, but Illinois officials are taking the outbreak seriously.
"We are working to minimize the spread in the best possible way," Ezike said.
As of Monday afternoon, the state health department was monitoring 286 people -- a number that changes every day -- for potential exposure. No details about those people will be made public unless they are confirmed to be infected, Ezike said.
The best precautions people can take are to follow the same guidelines for avoiding the flu, but perhaps with renewed vigor and vigilance. Pritzker said. These include regularly washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes and not touching one's face after touching public surfaces.
Pritzker said Illinois has a sophisticated health care system and there are no shortages of equipment needed to help fight the coronavirus, including gloves, masks and gowns for health care workers.
He said he's been in contact with Vice President Mike Pence about potential federal assistance, and would be speaking with the CEOs of Illinois' largest insurance companies about keeping access to testing and care available to residents and being on alert against price gouging.
Dr. Daniel Reaven, medical director of the emergency department at Northwest Community Hospital, said tests confirmed Saturday that the man being treated there has the coronavirus, a diagnosis expected to be confirmed soon by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reaven did not discuss the patient's wife Monday and hospital officials, citing federal privacy laws, declined to discuss the man's recent travels or discuss how he may have contracted the disease.
A Chicago couple were the first coronavirus patients in Illinois. Both were treated at Amita St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates and released back to their home, where they were monitored daily by health officials.
The woman had traveled to China, where she was infected, and later infected her husband.
Pritzker has requested that hospitals across the state implement additional testing to improve surveillance for COVID-19. Illinois was the first state to provide COVID-19 testing and Pritzker announced two more IDPH labs in central and southern Illinois will be able to test specimens this week.
Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Public health officials are encouraging the public to not alter their daily routines and remain vigilant about keeping germs from spreading, including staying home when sick and contacting a doctor if displaying symptoms.
Pritzker also provided a hotline number for insurance coverage questions -- (877) 527-9431 -- and another hotline for medical questions for IDPH at (800) 889-3931.