Information About Coronavirus

We are in the midst of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, and understandably many people have a lot of questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Some important information about this coronavirus can be found on this page including:

COVID-19 General Information
COVID-19 in Illinois
Coronavirus Symptoms
What to Do if You Get Sick
Treatment for COVID-19
Additional Resources

 

For additional information about the federal government response to the coronavirus outbreak, visit the Government Response to Coronavirus website. The Illinois Department of Public Health website is also a resource that has information about coronavirus prevention and response efforts in Illinois, which includes guidance for businesses, organizations, schools, healthcare providers and more.  

 


 

COVID-19 General Information


COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a novel virus that is part of the coronavirus family and is related to other viruses that cause respiratory illnesses in humans including the common cold.  This new coronavirus first infected humans in 2019 and has been spreading via person-to-person transmission and in some areas through community spread. While there is extensive ongoing research to develop treatments and vaccines, there are currently no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medical countermeasures to treat COVID-19.  There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC considers this coronavirus to be a serious public health threat. It’s important for you to familiarize yourself of the disease and take steps to help prevent its spread.

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COVID-19 in Illinois

The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Illinois was announced January 24, 2020.  Since then, thousands of cases have been confirmed throughout the state.  While the situation is rapidly evolving, the Illinois Department of Public Health is regularly publishing the number of positive cases in each county on their website that you can find here.

The federal government is working in partnership with Illinois state officials to respond.  For example, Governor Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation on March 9, which was approved by President Trump on March 26 to allow access to federal resources to respond to this public health emergency.  More information on how the State of Illinois is responding can he found here.

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Coronavirus symptoms

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms or are at risk, it’s especially important to stay home and avoid in-person contact with others.  Call your doctor for medical advice if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as cough and difficulty breathing.

According to the CDC, reported symptoms have widely ranged from mild to severe illness and death for coronavirus cases. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the coronavirus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Children have similar symptoms as adults and generally have mild illness.

Older adults 65 years of age and older and people who have underlying medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart or lung diseases seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 seek medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

According to the CDC, we now know from recent studies that a significant number of individuals with coronavirus have no symptoms (referred to as “asymptomatic”) and that those who do eventually develop symptoms can spread the virus to others before showing any symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people physically near each other even if no symptoms are present.

 

Take Steps to Protect Yourself

  • Practice social distancing and stay at least six feet from other people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time, especially after being in a public place.
  • If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Ensure extra distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.

If you are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, you should take extra precautions.

 

Take Steps to Protect Others

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds afterwards.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, phones, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Minimize trips out of the home and do any necessary shopping at times stores are less likely to be crowded.
  • If you think you may be sick, wear a facemask when you are around others to reduce the chances of getting them sick. 
  • On Friday, April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that Americans wear non-medical cloth face coverings on a voluntary basis as a precautionary measure.  These can be fashioned out of common household cloth items.  These are not surgical masks and N-95 respirators, which should be saved for medical professionals.  Please note that cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing measures.  You can find more information on this guidance here.

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What to Do if You Get Sick

If you think you have coronavirus, you should:

  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.
  • Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor. If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose of used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

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Treatment for COVID-19

Although there are ongoing clinical trials, there are currently no FDA-approved therapies to treat COVID-19.  Researchers are studying new drugs, and drugs that are already approved for other health conditions, as possible treatments for COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress provided nearly $1.8 billion of supplemental funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  These funds will be used to improve our understanding of the virus and develop therapeutics. To expedite and test potential treatments, the FDA has created the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program.

As an example of an antiviral drug currently under investigation, NIH is currently partnering with a university medical center to test remdesivir in adults with COVID-19. Remdesivir was initially developed by Gilead Sciences Inc. as a broad antiviral treatment and was previously found to be active against other coronavirus diseases such as Middle East Respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).  

Trials have also begun to test the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19 patients. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already approved to prevent or treat other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and malaria. However, there is currently limited data about the effectiveness of these products for COVID-19. 

FDA has also begun investigating biologic treatments, including whether antibodies found in blood donated by people who have already recovered from COVID-19 can be used to treat other patients with the disease. 

As a senior Member of the House Science Committee, Congressman Lipinski has long advocated for strong federal research funding.  Congressman Lipinski’s office continues to monitor research efforts related to coronavirus treatments and vaccine development efforts.  Please continue to check this site for periodic updates.

 

COVID-19 and Children

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally shown mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.

It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs. There is more to learn about how the disease impacts children. You can learn more about who is most at risk for health problems if they get COVID-19 on the CDC’s website at this link.

To keep children healthy while school is out during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has put together information about steps to protect children and others from getting sick that can be found on the CDC website here. They also have put together some helpful guidance on how to talk with children about the coronavirus that you can find here.

The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible, including contact children have with others. If children meet in groups, it can put everyone at risk. To help children stay connected, while maintaining social distancing, reach out to friends and family via video chats or phone and write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit.

Help make sure children practice take preventative measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others. CDC’s Everyday Preventative Actions can be found here.

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