By John O’Connor
AP Political Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday four new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, bringing the total to 11, and he issued a disaster proclamation giving the state access to state money and possibly federal reimbursement for the costs of fighting the potentially deadly illness.
The new cases of COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus, include two women, one in her 50s and one in her 70s, who are related to a Chicago high school employee who was announced last week as the state’s sixth case, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department, said at a Chicago news conference with Pritzker.
Arwady said the other two new cases involve a woman from California in her 50s who traveled to Illinois and a woman in her 70s who returned this month from an Egyptian cruise linked to COVID-19. Each of the newly diagnosed patients is in good condition, Arwady said.
“These two new cases associated with the employee at Vaughn High School highlight what we know about this virus, particularly that close contacts to confirmed cases are the ones most at risk, like the family members in this case,” said Arwady, who added that “there is not (a) sign of transmission at the school.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.
Pritzker said 13 other states have also made disaster proclamations, which he stressed is an “operational procedure that opens up a substantial set of federal and state resources and tools.”
It allows for the use of state disaster relief funds for COVID-19 control and will put the state in line for federal coverage of costs if that money becomes available as officials expect.
“In every step that we take our priority is getting ahead, and staying ahead in our response and doing so with the safety of our most vulnerable residents at the core of our preparedness,” said Pritzker, who announced that daily updates will now be provided by his administration.
Pritzker said the government is now assembling mobile support teams of emergency responders to react quickly when new situations arise. The disaster declaration allows the state to request on-site assistance from federal authorities from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The governor said the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Department of Public Health will supervise and coordinate local responses from the state’s emergency operations center in Springfield.