As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.
A man in his 60s in McHenry County is one of seven newly confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
As of Thursday evening, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois was 32, according to the IDPH. Of those, two confirmed cases are in McHenry County. The condition of a McHenry man in his late teens who was diagnosed earlier this week was not immediately available. Kane County also is home to two confirmed cases, with a man in his 70s appearing among the list of newly confirmed cases released Thursday. The first reported patient in Kane County – a woman in her 60s, was recovering at home and “doing well” Thursday, officials said.
As confirmed cases in Illinois continue to rise, doctors are expanding their services to better accommodate people in need of screening and encouraging anyone who thinks they might be at risk to call their primary doctor before taking further action.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can present themselves two to 14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those same symptoms, however, also are associated with a number of unrelated conditions, said Dr. Shoeb Sitafalwalla, vice president and chief medical officer at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. When in doubt, patients are encouraged to call their primary doctor to go over their symptoms.
“Most of our primary doctors in this area are conducting phone evaluations to check to see if you are a patient at risk for COVID-19 by established CDC guidelines and the department of health here in Illinois,” Sitafalwalla said.
Although public concern surrounding COVID-19 is widespread, Sitafalwalla reminded patients that traditional “flu season” isn’t through yet.
You’re sick. Now what?
Susan Stack, communications coordinator for the Kane County Health Department, said people should begin seeking medical advice about COVID-19 once they develop symptoms specifically linked to the disease.
“It’s important to know that if you have a cough, if you have a fever and if you have shortness of breath, that’s more in line with what symptoms of coronavirus are,” Stack said.
The CDC also recommends that anyone who has been in close contact with a person known to have the virus and anyone who has recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 speak with their primary doctor.
Dr. Irfan Hafiz, an infectious disease specialist and chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine hospitals in McHenry, Huntley and Woodstock, said they want patients who might have been exposed to COVID-19 to call their doctor, health department, or hotline at 312-47-COVID. An over-the-phone evaluation can help quickly determine what services a person is need of, while preventing unnecessary potential COVID-19 exposure.
If person who is ill and needs to be isolated at home, it’s preferred if they have a separate room to themselves, Hafiz said. Designated linens, towels and even a private bathroom would be ideal, he said. If a private bathroom is not possible, Hafiz said, surfaces should regularly be wiped down with disinfectant, bleach and other germ-killing cleaners in between uses.
Masks are recommended for both people are ill and their caretaker when they come in close contact, though it is not necessary for the caretaker to keep a mask on throughout the house, Hafiz said. Once a person is able to come off fever-reducing medication and last more than 24 to 48 hours without a fever, that’s when they’ve made a successful recovery, Hafiz said.
When and how to get tested
All coronavirus testing requires approval from the local department of health, Sitafalwalla said. Once confirmation is received, the patient is often sent to a nearby hospital for screening. Screening also can be performed at some doctor’s offices, depending on test kit availability and other unique factors, officials said.
“A lot of things come into play” when it comes to how long a test could take, said Hannah Goering, communication manager for the Lake County Health Department.
Some of it depends on how quickly the patient can get to a health care provider, when a clinic has the availability to see them, and how long it can take for a clinic to ship the specimen. Once samples are sent to the state lab, however, results tend to come back between 48 and 72 hours, Sitafalwalla said.
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington will additionally provide drive-thru COVID-19 screening at the hospital’s ambulance bay, spokeswoman Kristen Johnson said in a news release.
“This outpatient screening is only for patients with mild symptoms who do not require hospital evaluation and have obtained a testing authorization number from their local health department,” Johnson said.
Testing consists of a throat and nasal swab that is sent to one of several labs throughout the state for examination, Sitafalwalla said. He said the typical turnout time COVID-19 test results was about 48 to 72 hours as of Thursday evening.
Afterward, patients will be instructed to stay at home until they receive their test results.
“Everyone does not need to be tested,” Hafiz said.
Those who do are people returning from a foreign country such as China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy or others on the list within the past 14 days who are having a fever, cough or other respiratory complaints. Others who have been in contact with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus also would need to look into getting tested, Hafiz said.
About 29% of the cases in Illinois Thursday were travel associated and about 44% were transmitted through contact of a COVID-19 case. The remaining cases did not have a clear connection and could be the result of spread in the community, according to an IDPH news release.
At a news briefing Thursday, Gov. JB Pritzker discouraged residents from attending social gatherings of 250 people or more and mandated the cancellation of any event projected to draw at least 1,000 people.
“Don’t be fooled into thinking that your community is immune,” Pritzker said. “It is not. I’m not going to hesitate to take the most aggressive measures possible to protect the people of our state.”
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