No signs sickness spread from Illinois’ only confirmed coronavirus patients: officials

The Chicago couple, who were recently released from the hospital, are symptom free but remain at home, health officials said Thursday.

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Dr. Terry Mason (left), chief operating officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health, and Mabel Moy (right), of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, joined Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health at a news conference at the Chinatown Branch of the Chicago Public Library.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Thursday discussed coronavirus at a news conference Thursday at the Chinatown branch of the Chicago Public Library. Also at the news conference was Dr. Terry Mason, left, chief operating officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health, and Mabel Moy, right, of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The risk of contracting coronavirus in the Chicago area remains “low,” in part, health officials said Thursday, because there have been no signs of the disease spreading from the only two confirmed Illinois patients.

“This is a huge milestone in terms of controlling this virus locally and should help everyone in the region breathe a sigh of relief,” said Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, speaking to reporters at the Chinatown public library branch.

Though officials continue to monitor some health care workers who looked after the Chicago husband and wife who got sick, the couple’s family and community contacts “are free to move about the community without any limitation,” Arwady said.

The husband contracted the virus from his wife, who returned from central China on Jan. 13. Both are in their 60s. They were recently released from AMITA Health St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates. Both remain at home and are receiving on-going testing, said Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health.

“They will be cleared to return to their regular activities in consultation with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] when we are confident that there is no infection risk to the community,” Mason said.

In discussing the low risk for contracting the disease in Illinois, Arwady pointed out that since screening of travelers arriving at O’Hare International Airport from China began in January, none has shown any potential symptoms of the illness.

Health officials urged people to be wary of where they’re getting their information about the virus, encouraging them to check with the CDC, as well as trusted local and state sources.

“Please do not allow stigma, xenophobia or fear to control your decisions,” Arwady said.

Arwady made a point of saying she planned to eat lunch in the neighborhood.

“There remains no need for the general public to change their behavior in any way, no need to wear masks in public and certainly no need to avoid Chinatown,” she said.

Mabel Moy, head of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, stood with health officials Thursday, urging people to patronize area businesses, many of which have seen a 50% drop in customers.

“Just tell people that in our area, the (coronavirus) spreading — we don’t see any sign of it,” Moy said.

Evonda Thomas-Smith, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, discusses the response to the 2019 novel coronavirus during a news conference at the Chinatown Branch of the Chicago Public Library Thursday morning. Behind her are Dr. Terry Mason (left), chief operating officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health, and Mabel Moy of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Evonda Thomas-Smith, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, discusses the response to the coronavirus during a news conference Thursday at the Chinatown branch of the Chicago Public Library.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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