Illinois officials announced the state’s third and fourth cases of a novel coronavirus from China and new measures aimed at preventing the spread of the respiratory illness.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker confirmed the state’s fourth likely case of COVID-19 Monday while also announcing a new program that will be proactively testing people in hospitals.
The two people tested positive via state methods. Federal authorities are expected to confirm those results.
Illinois Department of Public Health officials said a woman in her 70s likely contracted the virus from her spouse, a man in his 70s, according to a news release. This woman was being quarantined at home and was complying with health officials. Both the man and woman were reported to be in good condition.
Multiple media outlets reported the man was quarantined in Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights while his wife was at their home.
COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, similar to SARS or MERS viruses that have resulted in past outbreaks.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. announced the start of a “sentinel surveillance” program that sends officials to hospitals to proactively test people willing to comply.
“This is an aggressive strategy to go out and be looking to see if there’s community transmission or not,” she said. “If they present to a hospital or emergency department and have flu-like illnesses but test negative for the flu, they can be tested for coronavirus.”
Ezike said that, as of Monday, 286 Illinoisans were being actively monitored to see if they have the virus.
IDPH officials said symptoms reported among patients have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Right now, the virus has not been found to be spreading widely in the U.S. and the risk to the general public remains low.