Illinois’ 7th coronavirus case reported in Chicago

A Chicago man in his 60s is hospitalized in serious condition after contracting COVID-19. Also, a Missouri woman who traveled on an Amtrak train from Chicago to St. Louis last Wednesday tested positive for the virus, according to the rail agency.

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A couple wears face masks and latex gloves Friday in the international terminal at O’Hare Airport.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file photo

Officials announced Sunday that a Chicago man in his 60s is the seventh person in Illinois to contract coronavirus and warned that more cases are likely to crop up in the coming days.

The man is now hospitalized in serious condition as authorities investigate, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. The latest case has not been linked to any travel or other individuals who have been stricken by COVID-19, including an aide at Vaughn Occupational High School in Portage Park.

Though Chicago’s public health commissioner Allison Arwady said the new case “does not mean there is widespread transmission of COVID-19 occurring in Chicago,” she noted that the city is “taking this case of potential community transmission very seriously.”

“As we have enhanced our surveillance efforts and begun testing more people, we expected to find more cases, and I expect that we will continue to identify cases in the days and weeks to come,” Arwady added.

“It signals how important it is for anyone with fever, cough and respiratory symptoms to stay home, and how important it is for us all to focus on protecting our older residents and those with underlying medical conditions.”

Chicago’s public health commissioner Allison Arwady (left) and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike provide updates on the seventh case of coronavirus reported in Illinois.

Chicago’s public health commissioner Allison Arwady (left) and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike provide updates on the seventh case of coronavirus reported in Illinois.

Jake Wittich/Sun-Times

Arwady said the newest case of coronavirus was identified by the city’s and state’s surveillance efforts. Anyone who experiences influenza-like symptoms, respiratory issues or other serious illnesses that tests negative for the flu or other viruses will have a sample sent to the Illinois Department of Public Health for a coronavirus screening.

“That is how this patient was detected, and we were able to rapidly identify it because he sought medical care,” Arwady said.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said the state has enough coronavirus testing supplies for people associated with either Chicago case that requires testing. But she said the state would need more tests to expand its sentinel surveillance, so it’s looking into possible partnerships with companies that offer commercial testing.

The classroom assistant from Vaughn, a Chicago woman in her 50s who was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship last month, was the sixth confirmed case of coronavirus in Illinois. Officials said Sunday that the classroom assistant was in good condition.

Anyone who visited Vaughn since Feb. 25 was asked to quarantine themselves at home until March 18. However, people who were not at Vaughn can still attend work and school as long as they’re not sick, even if they’ve been in contact with someone who was at the school.

Vaughn focuses on special education and enrolls 212 students. As of the start of the year, 85 CPS employees worked at Vaughn, according to Chicago Public Schools records.

Arwady said officials are reaching out to students, faculty and staff at Vaughn to test anyone showing symptoms for the virus. As of Sunday afternoon, no one had tested positive.

Also Sunday, Amtrak announced that a St. Louis County, Missouri, woman in her 20s who recently tested positive for coronavirus had traveled on one of its trains from Chicago to St. Louis last week.

The woman had traveled last Wednesday, Missouri officials said. She had recently traveled to Italy and is the first presumptive case in the state.

Amtrak said it would notify passengers and employees who might have been on the same train, which was removed from service for disinfection. The rail agency said it would also disinfect its Chicago and St. Louis stations.

The first two cases of coronavirus involved a Chicago couple who contracted the virus when one of them traveled to central China in January. The husband and wife have both recovered.

Illinois’ third and fourth cases involved an Arlington Heights couple who recently traveled to another state. The fifth case is a Cook County man in his 20s who recently traveled to Italy. 

Those three patients are still in home isolation and doing well, Ezike said Sunday.

The coronavirus has stricken 109,000 around the world, killing 3,800 people, according to the Associated Press. More than 500 people have been sickened in the U.S., resulting in 21 deaths, USA Today reports.

The U.S. Department of State issued an advisory Sunday urging all U.S. citizens, especially those with underlying health conditions, to avoid traveling on cruise ships.

Visit the IDPH website, the CDPH website, and the CDC website for updates on COVID-19.

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