March 11, 2020
Evanston officials continue to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus as confirmed cases of the virus reach 19 in the state.
Currently, there are no confirmed cases in Evanston of the coronavirus. The city’s Health and Human Services Department has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health and city staff to monitor the disease.
The virus, also known as COVID-19, is a respiratory illness with many flu-like symptoms, including fever, shortness of breath and cough. Symptoms typically appear two to 14 days after exposure, and the disease is thought to spread person-to-person.
On Tuesday, confirmed cases nearly doubled, jumping from 11 to 19 and prompting Gov. J.B. Pritzker to demand more tests be sent to states, according to NBC Chicago. Just a day before, he declared a disaster proclamation, which allows officials to tap into additional funds and resources, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I am very frustrated with the federal government, we have not received enough tests,” Pritzker said in the NBC article. “We have tests, we are testing, but we would like to be able to test anybody that shows signs that they need to be tested and anybody who would like a test and we’ve been told now for days and days and days, indeed weeks I would argue, that their commercial labs will be coming online…we haven’t seen it.”
Northwestern Hospital told NBC Chicago that it had not received testing kits by Tuesday afternoon. NorthShore University HealthSystem, which has a hospital in Evanston, said on its website that testing is not available at its facilities, and is only available at the IDPH for people who meet the case definition criteria for testing as outlined by the CDC.
NorthShore also said on its website that it does not have any COVID-19-infected patients in any of its facilities. If a patient does arrive with what they suspect to be the novel coronavirus, the family and friends they may arrive at the hospital with should not wait in the waiting rooms, but instead go into the exam room with the patient or return home.
During a March 3 Human Services Committee meeting, Ike Ogbo, the director of health and human services, presented an update about the coronavirus, emphasizing nonpharmaceutical interventions. These interventions can include staying home if sick and routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
There are currently no vaccines or antiviral drugs to combat the virus.
“If there is a wide expansion of this virus in our community, it will disrupt schools, (cancel) gatherings and overwhelm our public health systems and our hospitals.” Ogbo said during the meeting. “These are things we have to keep in mind if there is a community virus in Evanston.”