CHICAGO (CBS)– A fifth case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Cook County, state health officials announced Thursday.
Officials said the fifth patient is a Cook County resident in his 20s who flew into O’Hare International Airport earlier this month after traveling to Italy.
“The individual acquired the infection while in Italy and is hospitalized at Rush University Medical Center in isolation. Public health officials are identifying and contacting all close contacts,” Illinois health officials said in a written statement.
The Vanderbilt Hustler student newspaper reported the patient is as junior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He was studying abroad in Florence, according to the student paper, which declined to release his name given the sensitive diagnosis.
The student told the Hustler that he left Florence on Tuesday after the program called on all students to return, and tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday in Chicago.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, a doctor at Rush said the patient will be kept in what is called a negative pressure room – which essentially makes sure that air in his room does not circulate back out onto the hospital floor.
“We brought the patient in through a separate entrance than our other patients are using. We immediately on arrival were able to mask the patient and just bring the patient in for the evaluation directly to one of our negative pressure rooms,” said Dr. Paul Casey.
Rush said it is also prepared to minimize exposure to staff.
“In this case, we actually use some of our virtual platform in order to bring the expertise to the room as opposed to having to bring more people,” Dr. Casey said.
This case is a bit unique at this stage in Illinois as the other patients here have been older than 60. State health officials said Italy is doing monitoring before people leave the country, but it’s unclear whether this person was properly screened.
Health officials said tests have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmatory testing. The student told the paper he was getting calls from the CDC every half hour asking about everyone he’d been in contact with.
The news comes as Loyola University college students have also been returning from Italy this week. They were ordered by the university to return to the United States and spend 14 days at home in isolation.
“We can’t come to campus,” said Lu Calzada, who returned last night. “We can’t go to school or work.”
Another student, Olivia Simon, who returned earlier this week, said: “I’m taking my temperature a couple times a day.”
“It’s a little rough,” said Loyola student Julia Rotondi. “Whenever I remind myself that I could be in Rome, it’s just really sad.”
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 home after being treated Northwest Community Hospital. Illinois health officials said the third patient had traveled to states with the virus outbreak.
Gov. JB Pritzker, along with Illinois health officials, said officials have not determined where in Italy the fifth patient contracted the virus. Officials are alerting passengers who sat near the patient on the plane.
Pritzker said the risk remains low but the state is preparing and distributing guidelines in case of an outbreak. He said it’s important to take extra precaution and stay home when sick.
Seven hospitals now have voluntary surveillance monitoring for the virus and Pritzker said they are working to expand the monitoring. An Illinois health official said results from these tests will be sent to state labs.
The governor addressed price hikes on over-the-counter goods and services needed for controlling the virus. He said “any price gouging will not be tolerated.”
Julia Rotondi, another Loyola student in self-quarantine, said, “It’s a little rough. Whenever I remind myself that I could be in Rome, it’s just really sad.”