Ill. receives supplies to fight swine flu

April 30, 2009 (CHICAGO) The supplies are now being distributed throughout the state.

With at least 22 cases now, Illinois has nearly one-fifth of all the swine flu cases in the United States. The help that's coming from the federal government will likely get distributed to local hospitals and health clinics by the weekend to be in place for what might be a growing need.

As the number of swine flu cases increase, employers and employees are working on a new standard of when to stay home.

In Peoria, the National Guard is receiving supplies from the national strategic stockpile for pandemics: 11,000 kits of masks, gloves, gowns and the anti-viral medications Tami flu and Relenza.

"These supplies will be sent to local hospitals as well as local health departments to assist these particular areas, disseminating these particular supplies and equipment," said Andrew Velasquez, Il Emergency Mgmt. Agency Director.

The state already has robust stores of medicine and equipment for dealing with a pandemic, according to Velasquez. But being able to move them to local hospitals and health departments takes practice, and the 200 National Guardsmen on this duty are putting into action what they have been trained for.

"This provides a level of realism that gives them exactly those things that they need to validate the proficiency in their missions," said Col. Christopher Lawson, Il National Guard.

In McHenry County, health officials say a probable case of swine flu involves a 40-year-old man who recently traveled to Mexico. He wasn't hospitalized and is recovering at home -- an outcome that's proving relatively common for American carriers of the virus.

But employers around Chicago are dealing with questions about whether staff should come to work or not if they are even mildly feeling under the weather.

"If you don't feel well you can stay home. However, obviously employers do have businesses to run. A problem we've seen is more the employee, too diligent and shows up to work when they shouldn't be at work," said Mike Warner, employment lawyer.

Another issue-- people who would take advantage of the situation, versus those who come to work and make everyone sick

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control put the number of American cases at 109; about 18-percent are reported in Illinois. The World Health Organization remains on Level 5 Alert, which is a step away from declaring a global pandemic.

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