8 new Illinois coronavirus cases announced in Kane, McHenry, Cook counties, bringing state total to 19; 4 schools closed

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois health officials announced eight new cases of COVID-19 in the state Tuesday afternoon, including the first cases outside of Cook County.

The total number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Illinois is now 19.

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The eight new cases include a man in his late teens with ties to Lake and McHenry counties, and an unrelated Kane County woman who is in her 60s.

Neither patient had a history of travel to an affected area and no connection to a known case of COVID-19, making them possibly among the first cases of community transmission in the state.

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Four Chicago area schools are closed Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases in the state has reached 19.



McHenry County officials confirmed the teen is being treated at Good Shepard Hospital in isolation where his condition is stabilized.

"These two cases outside of Cook County...are not health care workers, have no history, and have not had close contact with any known positive COVID-19 case. Since health officials cannot determine the origin of these two unrelated cases, each likely reflects community transmission of the virus," Pritzker said.

"As we anticipated, the number of cases in Illinois is increasing and now includes the first cases outside of Chicago and Cook County," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "The state of Illinois continues to take action to reduce spread of COVID-19 in Illinois and we again want to encourage people to start thinking and preparing now in the event they are not able to go to work, if schools are closed, if public transportation is not available, and how else their lives will be disrupted by this outbreak."

The other six new cases include four people from Cook County -- a man in his 70s, a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 40s and a man in his 40s -- and two men in their 40s from Chicago.

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Officials declined to give much detail about those other six cases, and said they are still investigating whether they are also the result of community spread, or are perhaps related to travel or contact with a previous case.

All eight patients' conditions are stabilized, officials said, and they are in isolation.

Health officials strongly emphasized that seniors with underlying conditions need to be careful during this time, recommending they avoid large gatherings and keep up to date with their treatments and medications.

"We know this is going to spread," Dr. Ezike said. "We're probably not at the peak now. So everything we do now will help determine how high that peak gets."

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Pritzker also expressed frustration with the federal government, which has been slow to provide more funding and testing kits as the number of Illinois cases rise.

"I am very frustrated with the federal government. We have not received enough tests. We have tests, we are testing, but we would like to be able to test anybody that shows signs that they need to be tested," Pritzker said.

The governor said no decision has yet been made to cancel this weekend's St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago, but indicated there could be a definitive announcement Wednesday about whether or not it will proceed.

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Four schools have also announced closings due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Resurrection College Prep in Norwood Park announced that students were dismissed at 10 a.m. and school would also be canceled for Wednesday. The school said someone in the school community came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. A two-day deep cleaning is being performed.

Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in Lakeview announced that it would be closed for the day after the parent of a student tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Loyola Academy in Wilmette remained closed Tuesday. The school was also closed Monday for deep cleaning after school officials said they learned Sunday night that a student and the student's family had contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19.

Vaughn Occupational High School remains closed until March 18 after a CPS employee tested positive for COVID-19. Vaughn was disinfected on Saturday morning.

CPS officials said Tuesday that after a second round of testing, all students so far have tested negative for COVID-19. CPS CEO Janice Jackson said there are no plans to close additional schools.

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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Monday, Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation in Illinois, which will open up state and federal resources, including federal disaster aid, to address the spread of COVID-19.

"Our priority is getting ahead and staying ahead in our response, and doing so with the safety of our most vulnerable residents at the core of our preparedness," Pritzker said. "That is why today, in the next phase of our continued effort to stay ahead of these changing circumstances, I am formally announcing a disaster proclamation for Illinois, our version of a state of emergency."

Seventeen states, including Illinois, have declared disasters or states of emergency.

"To be clear, this declaration will build on an already-robust response that has been developed over many months," the governor added. "We have one of the most robust public health systems in the nation and we were one of the first states to test for COVID-19 because we knew to press for that."

More than 800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States, and there have been 28 deaths: 23 in Washington state, two in California, two in Florida and one in New Jersey.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have confirmed cases of the virus.

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