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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

CPS Employee Confirmed To Have Coronavirus; She Worked At Vaughn School While Unknowingly Sick

Class is canceled at the Portage Park school for a week and officials are recommending students self-isolate until cleared of coronavirus.

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CHICAGO — A Chicago Public Schools employee has tested positive for coronavirus.

The employee continued to work at Vaughn Occupational School in Portage Park for several days while unknowingly sick with the virus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. JB Pritzker and other officials announced during a Friday news conference. Class at the school will be canceled for at least a week as officials seek to determine if any students or other employees at the school are now ill.

The woman was on the Grand Princess Cruise Ship and left the ship on Feb. 21. On March 4, the ship announced there were cases of coronavirus that had been associated with the cruise she was on.

The woman showed some symptoms of coronavirus while working, Lightfoot said. Her last day at work was March 2 and she tested positive for the virus Friday — just an hour before officials made their announcement.

“The unknown, frankly, can be scary. … As a parent myself, I understand how unnerving this can be for many of Chicago’s residents …,” Pritzker said, though he noted Illinois is being held up as a “model of the nation” for how it’s handling coronavirus.

“If you think you might be sick, please take no risks that could endanger others in the community. Call a health provider to plan a safe visit to the doctor.”

The city has not identified the employee or where she is hospitalized, though they said she is a special education classroom assistant and was considered “stable.” The woman is the sixth confirmed coronavirus patient in Illinois.

The city will contact students and employees of the school, an Illinois Department of Public Health official said, and the woman will be interviewed “in detail” to know where she has traveled and with whom she came into contact.

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Officials are recommending students self-isolate until they are cleared of the virus. An official said Illinois does have the capacity to test anyone associated with the woman’s case, and tests will be provided for free.

Pritzker said the risk of coronavirus is low to the general population, though the state is monitoring people who have been exposed to coronavirus and who are isolating themselves out of caution.

CPS has canceled school-related trips to locations it considers at risk for coronavirus and has “strongly” recommended employees not travel to those spots. If the employees do still travel, they are being advised to self-quarantine for two weeks after returning.

Symptoms of coronavirus appear two to 14 days after being exposed to the virus, and they include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

So far, there have been more than 300 cases of coronavirus in the United States, killing 15 people.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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