Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what we know today about COVID-19 in the Chicago area

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The announcement came as the number of coronavirus cases reported in the United States jumped to more than 500 in 34 states and the District of Columbia — with at least 21 of them fatal — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Sunday, the CDC’s numbers stood at 164 cases in 19 states with 11 dead. No deaths have been reported in Illinois.


Across the world, the coronavirus has been reported in more than 100 countries, with more than 110,000 people infected and more than 3,800 deaths recorded. Italy has become the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe with more than 7,000 people infected. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says travel restrictions and other strict public health measures will be imposed nationwide starting Tuesday to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Among the latest developments in Chicago and Illinois today:

Follow along for the latest updates:

4:42 p.m.: No new positive test results at Vaughn High so far but 2 relatives of staff member also infected

No students or other employees have tested positive so far for the new coronavirus at Chicago’s Vaughn Occupational High School, where a classroom assistant there was discovered last week to be infected.

However, two of the four new cases reported in Chicago Monday are relatives of the Vaughn classroom assistant, state officials announced. Those two people — a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 70s — are not themselves employees of Chicago Public Schools. Read more here. — Hannah Leone

4:33 p.m.: Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parades still a go, officials say

Even as Ireland cancels St. Patrick’s Day parades across the island to try to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus and Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation for Illinois because of the disease, Chicago officials said Monday they currently have no plans to call off the two major mid-March parades that draw massive crowds of revelers downtown and to the Southwest Side.

The city’s official parade is set to kick off at noon Saturday. The South Side Irish parade takes place on Sunday along Western Avenue in the Far Southwest Side Beverly neighborhood. Each can draw hefty crowds if the weather’s nice.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Monday said St. Patrick’s Day parades in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere will not take place this year because of the concern the coronavirus will spread through the dense crowds.Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said officials here are still keeping an eye on the developing virus situation.

“While there are currently no plans to cancel St. Patrick’s Day activities or other large events planned at this time, the City of Chicago is actively monitoring conditions and will recommend additional strategies as needed to prevent the spread of the virus,” Stratton said in a statement. “We continue to refine our citywide COVID-19 response plan in consultation with partners at the CDC, IDPH, CDPH as well as the parade organizers to ensure an operational plan is in place to protect the health and safety of our residents and visitors.”

Asked whether there’s talk of halting the South Side parade, Ald. Matt O’Shea, 19th, responded “Absolutely not! The 42nd annual South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade will step off on Sunday March 15th at 12 p.m. #WashYourHands.” — John Byrne

4 p.m.: Italy extends restrictions on travel to entire country

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says travel restrictions and other strict public health measures will be imposed nationwide starting Tuesday to try to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Conte said Monday night that a new government decree will require people throughout the country of 60 million people to demonstrate a need to work, health conditions or other limited reasons to travel outside the areas where they live. Read more here. — Associated Press

3:30 p.m.: 4 more cases confirmed, bringing total in state to 11

Four more people in Illinois have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 11, state, county and city officials said at a news conference at the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop.

All four new patients are women and all are in isolation and in good condition, officials said. The new patients include:


  • A woman in her 50s and a woman in her 70s, relatives of the sixth case announced Friday
  • A woman in her 50s from California who traveled to Illinois
  • A woman in her 70s who was on an Egyptian cruise linked to coronavirus cases.

“The virus is not circulating widely in Illinois at this time, but we must prepare now to reduce the impact to our communities if it becomes widespread,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation “to unlock additional federal resources and help the state prepare for the potential of further spread.”

The state’s seventh case, a Chicago man in his 60s, remains in serious condition, officials said. More than 200 people have been tested in Illinois, according to officials. Read more here.

3:15 p.m.: Dow drops 7.8% as stocks close just short of bear market

Coronavirus fears and a crash in oil prices sent a shudder through financial markets Monday, with stocks plummeting so fast on Wall Street that they triggered the first automatic halt in trading in more than two decades. Read more here. — Associated Press

3:04 p.m.: Loyola Academy to remain closed Tuesday

A Wilmette school will remain closed Tuesday because a student there had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, school officials said.

In a statement posted to the school’s website Monday afternoon, officials said the school will remain closed Tuesday “as we actively seek out additional information.” A contractor was hired to disinfect the entire building starting Monday afternoon, according to the school. Read more here. — Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

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2:45 p.m.: Officials to discuss coronavirus cases in Illinois

2: 29 p.m.: Italy will stop all sporting events until April 3

All sports in Italy were expected to be halted on Monday because of the coronavirus outbreak, including games in the country’s top soccer division and preparatory events for the Tokyo Olympics.


The Italian Olympic Committee, which oversees all sporting events in the country, said in a statement that the suspension will last until April 3 and that it would request a government decree to impose its decision. Read more here. — Associated Press

1:09 p.m.: Will County stocking polling places with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes

Will County sites being used for early voting and Election Day polling places are being stocked with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to protect election judges and voters as the number of reported coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase. Early voting in Illinois began last week and continues through March 16 ahead of the March 17 primary election. Read more here. — Erin Hegarty

12:59 p.m.: Intelligentsia and Peet’s coffee shops stop filling personal cups

Two more large coffee chains with national footprints have joined Starbucks in refusing to fill customers’ personal cups due coronavirus concerns. Intelligentsia Coffee will stop filling reusable cups at its shops across the nation, the Chicago-based company announced Monday. Peet’s Coffee has also stopped in Chicago-area stores. Read more here. — Louisa Chu

12:45 p.m.: Help organized for Vaughn High School families under quarantine

At least two efforts are now underway to help families of Vaughn Occupational High School who are under quarantine because of a coronavirus case involving a staff member.

Vaughn students and staff — along with anyone who was at the school between Feb. 25 and March 6 — have been told to stay home through March 18, though so far school has been canceled only for this week. An online fundraiser created by Cynthia Ok, the Local School Council chairwoman, seeks to help the families who have to stay home from work while Vaughn students are quarantined.

“A number of our families include single mothers who will not be able to return to their jobs until their student has been given the all-clear to go back to school,” states the fundraiser, which had raised more than $7,000 by midday Monday.

Separately, State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe’s office will be accepting donations of meals, cleaning supplies and nonperishable food from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at her office, 6315 N Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. — Hannah Leone

11:25 a.m.: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey chief tests positive for coronavirus, Gov. Cuomo says

New York has 142 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the governor said, with 19 of them in New York City. Read more here. — Shant Shahrigian, New York Daily News

11:15 a.m.: Coronavirus tests will be free under largest Illinois health insurers

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Cigna announced they will waive the costs of testing for COVID-19 as more commercially produced tests become available in the coming days. So far, the tests have been given to Illinois residents as part of public health efforts. Read more here. — Lisa Schencker

11:05 a.m.: Bloomington couple on Grand Princess, where 21 have tested positive for coronavirus

A Bloomington, Ill. couple are among more than 3,500 people aboard the cruise ship Grand Princess, where 21 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Grand Princess, returning from Hawaii, is expected to dock Monday in Oakland, in the east San Francisco Bay, after idling for days. Read more in the Pantagraph.

10: 46 a.m.: Couple who returned from Italy concerned about the lack of screening

A local couple who just returned from a trip to Italy said they have concerns about the lack of screening for people returning to the United States after trips to countries hard-hit by COVID-19.

“I do not agree that public officials are monitoring those returning from areas affected by the illness. My husband and I just returned from Italy on Saturday night and no one is monitoring us nor were we screened,” Trina Hayes, an Olympia Fields resident, wrote in an email.She and her husband decided to voluntarily quarantine themselves as a precaution. When their flight landed in New York, they were asked to fill out a form declaring any symptoms associated with coronavirus but their temperature was not taken, she said in an email.

“When our flight landed at JFK, no one asked anything about where we’d been in Italy, took temperatures, or looked for symptoms. One official in passport control yelled out, ‘Did any of you go to China?’ No one answered. Everyone boarding our flight filled out a form asking if we’d had a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, or conjunctivitis in the past 48 hours,” she said. — Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

10:45 a.m.: CDC warns against cruises and long plane trips

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging travelers, especially the elderly and those with “underlying health issues,” to avoid long plane trips and cruises.

In a posting over the weekend, the CDC recommends that travelers should “defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.” It says older adults and those with health problems “should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.”


9:40 a.m.: UIC student in self-isolation after visit to Vaughn

A student from the University of Illinois Chicago is self-isolating after having visited Vaughn Occupational High School, where a staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus.

UIC announced that the College of Education student is not ill and did not have direct contact with the Vaughn classroom assistant whose diagnosis was announced late Friday. Still, the UIC student is “required to stay home and self-isolate” until March 18.

Vaughn is shut down this week. Anyone who visited the school from Feb. 25, when staff member returned, to March 4, her last day at the school, have been asked to remain in isolation until March 18 unless otherwise instructed. CPS had previously said the woman was last at school on March 2.

UIC’s statement also noted its proximity to Rush University Medical Center, where one the seven people in Illinois known to have the coronavirus is being treated.

“While it is understandable to be concerned about COVID-19 — particularly due to the proximity of Rush to UIC — please be reassured that hospitals in the Illinois Medical District treat patients with a variety of infectious diseases on a daily basis. These patients are isolated and treated in appropriate spaces by trained staff using specialized equipment,” the statement said. — Elyssa Cherney

9:14 a.m.: Chicago losing out on almost 100,000 visitors this month as another big event — the fourth — cancels because of coronavirus worries

The American College of Cardiology on Monday canceled its annual event scheduled to take place later this month in Chicago, the fourth sizable show that has been called off in the past week because of concerns about the new coronavirus. The event was to draw 18,000 people to McCormick Place March 28-30.

The cancellations — and loss of almost 100,000 visitors from just those four shows — deal a blow to Chicago’s economy. On average, a convention attendee spends about $300 each day they are in the city on restaurants, transportation and entertainment, according to Chicago-based hospitality analyst Ted Mandigo. Read more here. — Mary Ellen Podmolik

8:48 a.m.: 2nd Indiana resident tests positive for coronavirus

A second person in Indiana has tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to Boston to attend a biotech firm’s meeting, state officials said Sunday.

The adult, who lives in Hendricks County, attended a meeting for Biogen Inc. last month and “developed mild flu-like symptoms” days later, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

The person is in isolation and not being hospitalized. State officials said several COVID-19 cases have been tied to the Boston meeting, including a Marion County resident identified Friday as Indiana’s first case. Read more here. — Associated Press

8:45 a.m.: Wall Street stocks plummet on coronavirus fears

Fear gripped financial markets around the world Monday as stock prices and bond yields plunge on worries about the effects of a new coronavirus.

The most violent drops came from the oil markets, where prices cratered more than 20%. But moves in stocks and bond yields were nearly as breathtaking. In the United States, the S&P 500 plunged 7% in the first few minutes of trading, and losses were so sharp that trading was halted. Read more here. — Associated Press

8:30 a.m.: St. Louis area woman tests positive for coronavirus after flying into O’Hare and taking Amtrak train home

The woman, in her 20s, flew into O’Hare on Monday and took an Amtrak train to St. Louis on Wednesday, according to St. Louis County officials. It was not known where she stayed in the Chicago area, or how she got to Union Station to board the Amtrak 303 train.

The woman had been studying abroad in Italy, which has been the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak of the virus with more than 7,300 people infected. The country is attempting to lock down 16 million people — more than a quarter of its population — for nearly a month to halt the spread. Read more here. — Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

8:25 a.m.: Loyola Academy in Wilmette closed Monday after student reports contact with coronavirus patient

A Wilmette school will be closed Monday because a student there had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, school officials said.

Loyola Academy, a private Jesuit high school at 1100 Laramie Ave., said in a statement that a student and the student’s family had contact “with an individual that public health officials report has tested positive for COVID-19.”

The patient has not been on the school campus, officials said. The student last was in class Friday. Read more here. — Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

5 a.m.: Some with OCD, other anxiety disorders are struggling amid the coronavirus epidemic

While health experts say the risk of contracting the new coronavirus locally remains relatively low, the swirl of news over outbreaks — and the ensuing public reaction — has taken a particularly heavy toll on the mental health of some who have obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety illnesses. Read more here. — Angie Leventis Lourgos

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