Coronavirus in Illinois: 7th COVID-19 case confirmed in state, Amtrak passenger traveling from Chicago to St. Louis tests positive

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois has confirmed a seventh case of COVID-19 in the Chicago area on Sunday.

Officials with the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health said a man in his 60s has tested presumptive positive for the new coronavirus. They said this might be the state's first case of community spread.

Dr. Allison Arwady, CDPH's commissioner, said that the man is a Chicago resident and he's currently hospitalized in serious condition.

"Based on what we know so far, this case has not been linked to any travel or to any currently confirmed COVID-19 case," Arwady said. "I want to state clearly upfront that this case is not connected to the recent case that we announced in Chicago, related to Vaughn Occupational High School."

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Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady provides update on seventh confirmed case of COVID-19 in Illinois Sunday.

An investigation by CDPH and IDPH is underway, as health officials sought to reassure the public Sunday.

"I want to be clear that the news today does not mean there is widespread transmission of COVID-19 occurring in Chicago," Arwady said. "It signals how important it is for anyone with fever, cough and respiratory symptoms to stay home, and how important it is for us all to focus on protecting our older residents and those with underlying medical conditions."

Also on Sunday, Amtrak announced that officials in St. Louis County, Missouri, confirmed a new coronavirus case involving a person who traveled on a train from Chicago to St. Louis last week.

The person has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 and is awaiting confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county officials told Amtrak.

"Amtrak is notifying passengers and employees who may have been on the same train, and as a precaution, we have taken the train out of service for comprehensive cleaning and disinfection, and are also working to do a thorough disinfection of the Chicago and St. Louis stations," the railroad service said in a statement Sunday.

The announcements come two days after state and city health officials publicly identified a CPS employee at Vaughn Occupational High School in Portage Park as a sixth Illinois patient to test positive for COVID-19.

Officials said the woman in her 50s was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship that docked in San Francisco in February. The same ship is now quarantined off the coast of California with more than a dozen new cases of the virus. It's expected to dock in Oakland on Monday.

Officials said that on Feb. 21, the woman disembarked the Grand Princess following a cruise to Mexico. She returned to work sometime last week.

The special ed school shut down Friday after the classroom assistant tested presumptive positive.

Some of those students were tested Sunday, as students, parents and staff are being asked to self-isolate for at least the next week.

"The majority of them have had no symptoms at all," Dr. Arwady said. "The ones that have had some symptoms, we've done careful evaluation, looked at their underlying conditions and where indicated we've arranged for testing. There is testing happening today."

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said classes at Vaughn would be canceled next week as a precaution.

"Any families or anybody who has visited the school from February 25th through March 6th is asked to do a self-quarantine," said Cindy Ok, a parent at the school.

WATCH: Officials announce 6th case of coronavirus in Illinois
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Officials announced the sixth confirmed case of COVID-19 in Illinois Friday, a Chicago Public Schools employee.

The fifth confirmed COVID-19 patient was released from RUSH Medical Center Friday to recover in self-quarantine at home.

On Thursday, Illinois health officials announced a man in his 20s from Cook County had tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials said he had recently traveled to Italy, where he acquired the virus.

The man was treated at RUSH University Medical Center. He was released to home quarantine Friday, after doctors determined he would be able to recover at home, hospital officials said.

RUSH officials said while the patient is still showing symptoms, he "no longer requires hospitalization."


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Illinois' 5th COVID-19 patient was released from RUSH Medical Center to recover at home Friday, the same day Senator Dick Durbin met with CDC and health officials.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin joined local health officials as well as CDC Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases Dr. Jay C. Butler to discuss how the federal and local governments are working together to respond to the novel coronavirus.

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"Don't panic, don't be pessimistic, but be realistic and take it seriously," Durbin advised. "We want to make sure there is no spread of this coronavirus."

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion bill to fight COVID-19 in the U.S.

"At this point we're still in a containment strategy," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Health. "Any case that is identified, we are full court press at all levels of government."

"The question is now what do we do next? I think that we have to be prepared that this is the first of many appropriations. I think there will be others to follow," Durbin said.

WATCH: Senator Dick Durbin speaks at coronavirus roundtable discussion
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With a fifth Illinois resident testing positive for COVID-19, Senator Dick Durbin met with local health officials and the CDC officials on the response to coronavirus.

Health officials warned the population most vulnerable to the virus is the elderly.

"The population most heavily impacted by COVID-19 are the elderly, particularly people over 80," said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases for the CDC.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is slated to receive $14.7 million of that which can be used to pay for test kits, protective equipment, lab testing and vaccine research. The Chicago Department of Public Health is set to receive an additional $8.7 million.

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Durbin and the CDC are advising people to take precautions, but not panic.

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Dr. Mark Loafman, chairman of Family Medicine at Cook County Health, explains the proper technique and duration for washing your hands to prevent the spread of illnesses. Scrubbing should continue for at least 20 seconds, which happens to be the amount of time it takes to hum the"Happy Birthday" song twice.

Durbin also gave an update on the possibility of a vaccine. He said health officials are saying that could take a year or two.

The third COVID-19 patient in Illinois, a man whose wife was also infected, is in isolation at home and doing well. The state's first two COVID-19 patients have both made a full recovery.

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Concerns about the virus have led to other cancellations in the Chicago area.

Ace Hardware has canceled its spring convention, which was planned in Chicago.

"The health and safety of our Ace employees, retailers and vendors is and has always been our top priority. Due to growing concerns around the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Ace Spring Convention next week in Chicago," company officials said.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, with a delegation of Jewish and Catholic leaders from Chicago, will reschedule their planned trip to Jerusalem, where the cardinal was scheduled to deliver the 25th annual Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Jerusalem Lecture at Hebrew University on March 16.

"In light of developing concern over the spread of the coronavirus, the State of Israel imposed travel restrictions on persons entering the country from certain countries," a spokesman for the Chicago archdiocese said Friday. "These restrictions affect some members of the delegation, making it impossible for all members to make the trip as planned."

A Chicago gathering for the lecture is being planned.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has created a hotline at 1-800-889-3931. More information can be found at the IDPH website and the Chicago Department of Public Health website.

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