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GENEVA – Staff at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington are treating a McHenry County boy in his late teens who tested positive for one of the first confirmed cases of coronavirus outside of Cook County in Illinois.
The patient is believed to have contracted the virus through the community, although an investigation into his travel history is ongoing, state health officials said at a news conference Tuesday. The patient remained in isolation Tuesday afternoon and was doing well, said Kristen Johnson, a spokesperson for Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital. Officials declined to release further details, citing personal privacy policies.
“As this virus continues to spread throughout our country and our state, we are prepared to provide care while maintaining a safe facility for our team members and visitors,” Johnson said in an official statement emailed Tuesday. “Preparing for potential epidemics and pandemics is not new and our expert infection preventionists, physicians and nurses are trained and ready for this.”
Hospital staff will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are working closely with local and state health agencies, Johnson said.
The male teenager and a woman in her 60s from Kane County were confirmed as the state’s first two cases of coronavirus identified outside of Cook County, bringing the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 19 as of Tuesday.
The McHenry County Department of Health is working to identify and investigate anyone who might have had contact with the McHenry County patient, MCDH Public Health Administrator Melissa Adamson said.
“We don’t have much information to share at this time, but we want the public to know that we are taking all necessary precautions with this case,” Adamson said. “We encourage all residents to continue using preventative measures to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, and to begin planning for events that could disrupt their lives, such as school closures or if they become ill.”
Anyone who believes they might have contracted the virus or been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 should reach out to their primary physician, Johnson said.
“The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19, please make an appointment with your primary care doctor,” Johnson said.
Precautions including hand-washing for 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can help safeguard against infection, according to the CDC. People also should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and anyone who is sick should stay home from work and school, according to CDC recommendations.
Gov. JB Pritzker said during a news conference Tuesday that neither of the cases in McHenry and Kane counties has any known contact with the previous 11 cases of COVID-19. State health officials are investigating the travel history of each patient, but believe cases in McHenry and Kane counties were transmitted through the community.
Patients linked to each of the eight newly confirmed cases were isolated either at home or in a hospital and were reportedly “doing well” as of Tuesday evening, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at a news conference Tuesday.
“Yes, I know that people will be concerned that they see a youth within this new identification of cases,” Ezike said. “Although we do have younger individuals, based on what we’ve seen in other countries the virus appears to show more severe illness in older adults.”
Public health officials have asked that people older than the age of 60 be cautious of attending large, indoor gatherings. It is additionally recommended that people of all ages remain proactive about addressing any underlying health conditions and practice regular health precautions including washing their hands.
On Monday, Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation for Illinois, enabling it to receive federal funding and resources to fight the respiratory disease. The governor also chided the federal government for its delay in providing the Chicago area with additional COVID-19 tests.
“Let me be clear with one thing: I am very frustrated with the federal government,” Pritzker said during Tuesday’s news conference. “We have not received enough tests. We have tests. We are testing, but we would like to be able to test anybody with signs that they need to be tested, anybody who like a test.”
In Kane County, Health Department Executive Director Barb Jeffers is handling the local response to coronavirus, Kane County Board Chairman Lauzen said at Tuesday’s meeting.
“This morning, I have good news and bad news,” Lauzen said during his opening speech to the board members. “First the bad news. The wake of this virus is going to go across the entire country. We already know that is what is actually going to happen. Tragically, people who are already impaired in their immune system – some people will die.”
The good news, Lauzen said, is, “we have been tested before.”
“The second good thing about this virus is, in its current state, its symptoms seem to be mild.”
• Kane County Chronicle reporter Brenda Schory contributed to this report