The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues to work closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal, state and local partners to monitor and respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

Current information suggests that person-to-person spread will continue to occur and more cases will be identified in the United States and in Chicago. CDPH’s goal is to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Chicago by detecting new cases quickly, minimizing transmission and developing guidance to prepare communities to respond. As this outbreak has spread globally, CDPH has tracked it closely and is using data to guide its response. The virus seems to be spreading easily from person to person and we encourage everyone to take measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in getting ready and staying healthy.

  • Individuals and communities should familiarize themselves with recommendations to protect themselves and their communities from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
  • Older people and people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. They should limit travel and should not attend large gatherings unless it is essential.
  • Event organizers should stay informed on the latest developments and public health guidance and anticipate that some events may need to be modified, canceled, or postponed.
  • Childcare facilities, K-12 schools and colleges/universities should review their emergency operations plans, including strategies for social distancing and online learning. Schools should consider postponing or canceling student foreign exchange programs. See CDPH’s COVID-19 Guidance for Childcare Programs and COVID-19 Guidance for Schools and Institutions of Higher Education.
  • Businesses and employers should actively encourage all employees to stay home when sick, perform hand hygiene, and cover coughs and sneezes. Businesses should review their emergency operations plan, including identification of essential business functions, teleworking and flexible sick leave policies. For more information, see CDPH’s COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses and Employers.
  • Community- and faith-based organizations should review existing emergency operations plans, including strategies for social distancing and modifying large gatherings. Community-based organizations should take steps to protect both the clients they serve and their employees. See CDPH’s COVID-19 Guidance for Community- and Faith-based Organizations.
  • Help reduce the spread of rumors. Let people know that viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds. Being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.
  • Fight stigma and fear by supporting people who may be coming back to school or work after traveling internationally or completing a quarantine or isolation period for COVID-19.

If you have been in China or another affected area or have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you will face some limitations on your movement and activity. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus.

What is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest.
How can I protect myself and my family?
You can protect yourself from respiratory illness, including COVID-19, by practicing these simple everyday preventative actions:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops and phones.
What should I do if I’m sick?
• Stay home except to get medical care.
• Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
• Call ahead before visiting a doctor and help keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
• Monitor your symptoms.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes.
• Clean your hands often.
• Avoid sharing personal household items.
• Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
Who is at risk of getting sick with COVID-19?
While many persons in our community may get sick, the vast majority will recover. Most cases of COVID-19 result in mild illness. To date, children also seem less likely to become ill. But people who are older and who have other health conditions are more likely to have serious illness. CDPH recommends people at higher risk to consider avoiding travel to areas with widespread transmission of COVID-19 and staying away from crowded social gatherings as much as possible, including parades, conferences, sporting events, and concerts where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another.
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