As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here
SYCAMORE – A person in DeKalb County has tested positive for the coronavirus for the first time, DeKalb County public health officials confirmed Saturday.
The patient is an adult in their 40s who has developed the disease known as COVID-19. DeKalb County Public Health Administrator Lisa Gonzalez declined to reveal any other information about the person. She said the patient is isolating themselves as required, and the health department has been in communication with people who may have been exposed to the virus through contact with the patient.
"We have followed up with the person and we are doing a contact investigation at this time," Gonzalez said. "The first thing we do is make sure that person is isolated."
Gonzalez said she couldn't reveal if the patient was hospitalized or isolated at home, or where in DeKalb County they lived, though Christopher King, spokesperson for Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, confirmed Saturday the patient is not there. Saturday's announcement makes the first known case of COVID-19 in DeKalb County, though the statewide total as of Sunday afternoon rose to 1,049 in 30 counties, with the majority of cases in Cook County.
"Currently, Kish is not caring for any confirmed COVID-19 patients," King said in an email.
King said Kishwaukee Hospital is licensed and has beds for 98 acute care patients, and said Northwestern Medicine systems have plans in place to address a potential patient surge in response to COVID-19 if necessary.
Gonzalez said although she can't yet put a number on how many tests have been conducted in DeKalb County, coronavirus testing is being done.
"Our area health care providers are doing testing, the lab samples are being sent to the state and private labs for priority," Gonzalez said.
Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital this week set up remote COVID-19 testing sites in front of the hospital, though the sites are not for people who walk in off the street. In order to be tested, a person must call their doctor or a health care professional first who will walk them through a series of questions to determine if they meet a threshold for seriousness of symptoms.
Symptoms include a fever, cough or other cold or flu-like symptoms, difficult breathing or shortness of breath. If approved by a doctor, you can get the test.
People will not be tested if they're only experiencing mild symptoms or don't meet all symptom criteria, Gonzalez said.
"We aren't testing people who are asymptomatic or if you have mild symptoms," she said. "If you have mild symptoms, you should stay put, isolate yourself from those who are well so you don't get them sick."
Gonzalez said she also couldn't reveal how many tests have thus far been conducted in DeKalb County.
"We hope to be able to release to the public in the near future, how the [Illinois Department of Public Heath] does it," she said. "Where they list the number of positive cases, negative cases and pending cases. We're not quite there yet."
Whiskey Acres announced this week they'll be manufacturing hand sanitizer for Kish staff and first responders who need it.
"We are grateful for the donation and appreciate the community giving back to our health care workers as they deal with this global health care pandemic," King said.
She said despite the growing number of cases and rapid shift in lifestyle due to closing businesses and stay-at-home orders, people shouldn't panic.
"If you're not doing essential things, stay home," Gonzalez said. "Even if they're scared of potentially getting the virus, that's the best thing they can do at this time. It is very normal to feel fear or anxiety in a situation like this, but we're trying to assure people to stay calm and stay put."
You can also stay in touch with DeKalb County Health Department COVID-19 related content by signing up for a newsletter at www.dekalbcounty.org/coronavirus, calling 1-800-889-3931 or emailing email@example.com.