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Coronavirus confirmed in Coles County hospital; Cumberland County state of emergency declared

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UPDATE:

TOLEDO — Cumberland County officials have declared a state of emergency after a male resident in his 70s was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

All events in Cumberland County, including church services, have been canceled for the next week, as officials seek to determine who may have come into contact with the man and prevent the further spread of the virus.

“We are doing our background checks for him, his interactions and where he’s been,” said Roy Clapp, Cumberland County Board chairman.

The patient was treated at the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center emergency room. The Illinois Department of Public Health notified the hospital late Friday that he had tested positive for the virus, the hospital said. 

Clapp said officials in surrounding communities have been contacted and provided information regarding the patient.


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“We’ve contacted all of our agencies,” Clapp said. “The county buildings, the mayors, the churches.”

Clapp said the county’s health department staff learned of the diagnosis Friday evening and began procedures immediately.

“He is being self-quarantined,” he said about the patient. Clapp was unaware of the condition of the patient.

The emergency declaration was recommended by the county’s health department and emergency management agency as a means of implementing needed procedures and protocols and to obtain financial assistance from the state and federal government to assist with efforts to bring the “disaster emergency to a rapid conclusion.”

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An exam room at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Mattoon.

The disaster emergency will expire in seven days unless extended by the board.

A patient admitted at Memorial Medical Center ​in Springfield also has tested positive for COVID-19, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health said in a statement Saturday.

The patient is critically ill and in intensive care, the agency said.


Our earlier story ... 

MATTOON — A patient at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center has tested positive for the disease from coronavirus, according to hospital spokeswoman Patty Peterson.

The patient was treated in the SBLHC emergency room and the Illinois Department of Public Health notified the hospital late Friday that the person was positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, Peterson said.

She said the patient resides in the SBLHC 10-county service area but couldn't say more about the person's residence or identity because of patient confidentiality requirements. At an afternoon press conference, state officials announced a patient who tested positive was self-quarantining in Cumberland County.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a press conference Saturday said a resident in Cumberland County tested positive for the virus. The person is identified as a resident in his 70s. 

The hospital's service area is comprised of Coles, Clark, Cumberland, Edgar, Douglas, Moultrie, Shelby, Effingham, Jasper and Fayette counties.

The person is self-quarantining as a result of the test results, Peterson said.

The emergency staff knew in advance that the patient was coming to SBLHC and precautions took place at that point, Peterson also said. The patient was met in the parking lot and given a mask and other protective equipment, then brought in a side door to avoid contact with others, she said.

Peterson also said SBLHC is now limiting patients for the hospital and clinics to one support person each accompanying them during visits.

She said SBLHC has tested several people for the coronavirus over the last few days but there have been no other positive results.


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The hospital is able to test people who show symptoms of the virus, Peterson said. However, the test supply is limited and people without symptoms can't be tested, she added.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and possible respiratory distress, according to information on the virus on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website.

There are several illnesses that can lead to those symptoms but they are more likely because of coronavirus if the person has traveled to an area of widespread transmission or been in close contact with someone with the virus, according to the health department.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Official response in Coles County

Meanwhile, Coles County officials plan to meet this week to discuss a response to the coronavirus outbreak. The decision to conduct the meeting was made after the report of the case at SBLHC, county Board Chairman Mike ZuHone said.

The time and day of the meeting will be announced on Monday once arrangements are made, ZuHone said.

He said board members along with representatives of the county emergency management agency, sheriff's office, health department and other departments will attend.

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A patient at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday morning.

He said the goal of the meeting is to prepare for "whatever scenario arises."

"We'll take direction as soon as we can," ZuHone said.

Charleston and Mattoon city officials plan to meet with representatives of the Coles County Health Department on Monday, according to Charleston Mayor Brandon Combs and Mattoon city Administrator Kyle Gill.

New state numbers 

The number of Illinois coronavirus cases rose to 64 from 46 as residents with the illness emerged in central and southern regions of the state, officials said Saturday.

The new cases include people in Woodford, Cumberland and St. Clair counties.

Pritzker ordered the closing of every school in the state until March 30, starting Tuesday.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the state health department, said the number of Illinois cases should “increase dramatically” as results come in from private labs.

“It is vitally important that we implement social distancing measures, such as staying home and canceling large events,” Ezike said.

Later Saturday, President Donald Trump urged Americans to avoid flying to slow the spread of the new coronavirus and expanded the U.S. ban on travel from Europe to include the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said at a White House news conference. “We want this thing to end. We don’t want a lot of people getting infected.”


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