Illinois Officials Take Precautions At Every Level To Deal With OutbreakBy Chris Tye

CHICAGO (CBS)– The University of Chicago Medical Center announced Tuesday night that a patient suspected of having coronavirus has tested negative for the infection.

“We wanted to share news that the patient admitted for possible COVID-19 infection yesterday has tested negative for the disease,” incident commander Kristas Curell, epidemiologist Dr. Emily Landon, and infection control program director Rachel Marrs wrote in an email to U of C Medicine and Biological Science Division staff. “We would like to thank the clinical team who cared for the patient while we awaited test results from the Illinois Department of Public Health.”

Because the patient tested negative Tuesday night, it is a sigh of relief for everyone they came in touch with recently. A process called social distancing would have kicked in to keep them isolated as a precaution.

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The hospital had followed “rigorous isolation and infection control protocols” before the test.

There have been four confirmed cases of coronavirus in Cook County.

A fourth person was diagnosed with the virus in the Chicago area on Monday. Illinois’ patient number four is a woman in her 70s who tested positive for COVID-19.  She is now under at-home isolation and in good condition according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

She is married to patient number three. He is a man, also in his 70s, who tested positive over the weekend and is now in isolation at Northwest Community Hospital.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, 116 people had been tested for coronavirus in Illinois. The aforementioned four have tested positive, 91 have come back negative – including the U of C Medical Center patient.

Another 21 are awaiting results.

As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, state doctors say Illinois remains at low risk, and it is a high priority to keep it that way.

“Things have evolved quickly over the last… it’s only a month,” said Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Indeed they have. At the airports, locations have been selected near O’Hare International Airport in case plane loads need to be quarantined.

At the hospitals, top doctors were kicking the tires Tuesday.

“IDPH is conducting hospital assessments to determine all available capacity in the event more people need medical care,” Ezike said.

The state is even now prepared to pay the people who were near coronavirus victims in Illinois for agreeing to stay home from work.

Empty shelves have been seen at Walmart, Costco, and other stores around the area. But Illinois officials said stockpiling is not necessary right now, because the risk for infection remains low.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Archdiocese announced COVID-19 precautions Tuesday. They are – no physical contact, hand-holding, or hand-shaking, no wine for communion, and no use of holy water fountains.

The state currently has 2,200 test kits on hand. Top doctor Ezike is bound for Washington, D.C. on Wednesday lobbying for more.

We also learned Tuesday that if a suspected sample gets to Illinois testing labs in Chicago, Springfield, or Carbondale by 11 a.m. on any given day, results for whether it is a new case can be determined that night.