Update: On Thursday, March 5, a patient at RUSH University Medical Center tested positive for the Coronavirus after traveling through O’Hare Airport.
Crusader Staff Report
Residents in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the deadly Coronavirus that has killed over 3,000 people worldwide in China, Italy and South Korea. In the U.S., 11 people in Washington and California have died after contracting the virus.
The precautions come as four people in Illinois have tested positive for the virus, including a man who is being treated in northwest suburban Arlington Heights.
Shoppers in supermarkets in Bronzeville, Woodlawn and South Shore began stocking up on bottled water, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and non-perishable items in the event that a surge in cases forces businesses and schools to shut down, forcing residents to stay home indefinitely.
On Sunday, the Mariano’s store in Bronzeville ran out of hand sanitizer as a mountain of cases of water was selling fast by the minute.
A Dollar General in South Shore sold out of face masks while Home Depot in Chatham struggled to keep them on shelves as demand soared amid growing concerns of the virus. At the Local Market Foods in South Shore, bottles of hand sanitizer were being sold for $1. Cases of bottled water stacked five feet high stood next to the cash registers.
In many parts of the Black community, there is concern that some residents remain uninsured and won’t seek medical help in the event they are infected. There is also concern that many cannot afford to stock up on items that will help them prevent from contracting the virus.
That same day, the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee, chaired by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), heard from the Illinois Department of Public Health on the status of the response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Illinois.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike explained the testing process. First, samples are taken to a state lab. If a result is positive, it is sent to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation.
IDPH’s turnaround for test results is less than a day, while it can take up to a week for a case to be confirmed by the CDC.
More than 93,000 people across the globe have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Health officials believe the number of infected people is much higher because many won’t seek medical help, believing they may have the flu which has similar symptoms, and can be treated with over-the-counter products.
In the United States, nine people have died in Washington state after they were infected with the virus. In Illinois, four people have tested positive for the virus. This week a man who tested positive for the Coronavirus was being treated in northwest suburban Arlington Heights.
Though Illinois is the first state to introduce Coronavirus testing, the state could benefit from more resources. According to IDPH, Illinois currently has 2,200 test kits. Yesterday, the federal government announced that Illinois will receive more kits, but the timeframe for their arrival is uncertain.
“The more we have, the better,” Dr. Ezike said about the kits. “The more we have, the more we can determine what’s happening.”
Dr. Ezike is set to meet with the federal government in Washington, where she says she will express the need for more resources.
“While I am pleased with the work that Dr. Ezike, Governor Pritzker and the Department of Public Health have done so far, it is clear that more kits are needed,” said Van Pelt. “I urge the federal government to provide our state, and others, with more kits as soon as possible.
If this becomes more serious, we want to make sure that IDPH is equipped to do their jobs in protecting us and containing the virus.”
IDPH has promised to update the General Assembly as new information becomes available.