Chicago Coronavirus: O’Hare Airport, Illinois Update

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Getty Chicago O'Hare, where passengers are being screened for the Coronavirus.

Concerns about the Coronavirus are spreading throughout the world and United States, and Chicago, Illinois, with its major airport, is no exception.

On January 24, 2020, the CDC confirmed that a Chicago woman is the second known U.S. case of coronavirus. The first person with the virus was reported in the state of Washington. According to Patch, the woman traveled to Wuhan in December, is in her 60s, and is now in stable condition. Another 63 other potential cases in 22 states are being studied. She had limited movement outside her home since returning from China, the site reported.

The CDC released this information about the woman:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today confirmed the second infection with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the United States has been detected in Illinois. The patient recently returned from Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by this novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019.

The patient returned to the U.S. from Wuhan on January 13, 2020, and called a health care provider after experiencing symptoms a few days later. The patient was admitted to a hospital, where infection control measures were taken to reduce the risk of transmission to other individuals. The patient remains hospitalized in an isolation room in stable condition and is doing well.

Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, health care professionals suspected 2019-nCoV. A clinical specimen was collected and sent to CDC, where laboratory testing confirmed the infection. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) are investigating locations where this patient went after returning to Illinois and are identifying any close contacts who were possibly exposed. The patient has limited close contacts, all of whom are currently well and who will be monitored for symptoms. Since returning from China, the patient has had very limited movement outside the home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that passengers with ties to Wuhan, China are being screened at O’Hare airport for the virus. In fact, Chicago O’Hare is now one of five airports in the country where people coming from Wuhan – the epicenter of the virus – are being funneled for screening.

CDC confirmed that the first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the United States was discovered in the state of Washington. “The patient recently returned from Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of pneumonia caused by this novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019,” the CDC says. There is also a suspected case of Coronavirus in Brazos County, Texas, which is the location of Texas A&M University.

Here’s what you need to know:

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport Is One of Five Major Airports Where the CDC IS Conducting Entry Screening of Some Passengers

According to the CDC, the agency is “conducting entry screening of passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan, China to five major airports: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles, (LAX) New York city (JFK), and San Francisco (SFO).”
Health officials said in the news conference that passengers coming from Wuhan are being “funneled” to those five airports. The screening there includes checking passengers’ temperature as well as looking for symptoms of the virus.

The screenings started at O’Hare on January 22, 2020, ABC 7 reported. The television station explains that screeners are looking for “symptoms like fever, coughing and shortness of breath.” By mid-afternoon on the first day of screening at O’Hare, 14 passengers had been checked and then were allowed to enter the United States after they weren’t considered to have the virus, ABC 7 reported.

According to Fox News, two passengers on a United Airlines flight from Shanghai to O’Hare were examined in Chicago “for exhibiting possible coronavirus symptoms.” However, it turned out that they didn’t have the virus, either.

In a press conference, Chicago Department of Health officials said that passengers from Wuhan will find that their initial point of entry to the U.S. will be in one of the five airports. It was recently expanded from three to five, adding Atlanta and Chicago.

They will be given a card that explains symptoms. If there’s any suspicion, the people will be taken, securely, to a hospital, not through the general airport. There are several hundred passengers a month who come through Chicago whose flights originated in Wuhan. Passengers will come through customs and border control and will then be routed to a secure screening area.

The health officials confirmed in the press conference on January 21, 2020 that there were no cases in Illinois or Chicago of coronavirus. However, that was before the woman’s case was confirmed.

There was previously screening at O’Hare for the Ebola virus.

The University of Chicago announced on its website that it was “monitoring the public health situation relating to a novel strain of coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.”

The university added: “While we are not aware of any cases in the UChicago community or the State of Illinois, we are closely monitoring the situation, coordinating with colleagues from UChicago Medicine, and following the latest guidance from public health officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the CDC.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that the state health department wants health care provides in Illinois to ask patients with fevers if they’ve been to Wuhan.

The State of Illinois Has an Information Page on Coronavirus

Security guards patrol outside the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where the coronavirus was detected in Wuhan on January 24, 2020 – The death toll in China’s viral outbreak has risen to 25, with the number of confirmed cases also leaping to 830, the national health commission said.

The State of Illinois has an information page on the coronavirus, which you can access here. The Illinois Department of Public Health explains that coronaviruses “are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people, and others that circulate among animal, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.”

The state adds: “Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. However, the emergence of novel (new) coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, have been associated with more severe respiratory illness.”

The virus causing the recent concerns originated in Wuhan, China, “CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China,” explains the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China have reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting limited person-to-person spread is occurring.”

The department adds: “If you have been in Wuhan, China, in the last two weeks or know someone who may have novel coronavirus AND you have symptoms, please call your health care provider so they can make arrangements for you to be assessed.”

Here are the symptoms listed by the Illinois Department of Public Health:

runny nose
sore throat
a general feeling of being unwell

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