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Coronavirus In Chicago: Illinois’ First Death Is An Auburn Gresham Woman

Illinois now has 160 confirmed cases of coronavirus — and officials expect there to be more in the days to come.

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CHICAGO — A 61-year-old Auburn Gresham woman is Illinois’ first victim of the coronavirus.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced the woman’s death on Tuesday, with officials noting Illinois now has 288 confirmed cases of coronavirus — up 128 from Tuesday, the state’s largest one-day jump so far.

The woman, Patricia Frieson, was a retired nurse who had long suffered from breathing problems, according to the Chicago Tribune. Officials have repeatedly warned those with underlying health conditions and older people are most at risk from severe cases of coronavirus.

“She doesn’t have high mobility, so however she got it, it was brought to her,” Frieson’s brother, Richard Frieson, told the Tribune.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said she was thinking of Frieson’s family — but also told Chicagoans they should “reflect on the people who are most vulnerable in your own lives.”

RELATED: Think You Might Have Coronavirus? Here’s What To Do

Younger people should speak to people who are more at risk and tell them to stay home, Arwady said. Those less at risk can also help by seeing if older people and those with underlying conditions need groceries brought to them.

“Encourage them to stay home and do everything you can to help protect them,” Arwady said. “We all have a role to play, even if you are young and healthy — and especially if you are young and healthy — in helping stem the spread of this virus.”

Officials have tried to prevent the spread of coronavirus by closing down schools, restaurants and bars. Pritzker has also banned any events of 50 or more people — and warned gatherings shouldn’t have more than 10 people.

But one of the most contentious issues is testing: There still are not nearly enough tests available in Illinois, Pritzker said. He blamed the federal government, saying he’s been asking it for supplies but has only received a portion of what the state needs.

But now Pritzker is done asking and is instead demanding tests, he said, telling the feds to provide tests to Illinois “or get out of the way and allow us to obtain them elsewhere ourselves.”

“The federal government is monopolizing supplies and not providing them to the states,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said he’s been calling CEOs, trying to get them to send tests to Illinois.

Officials also noted they still aren’t widely testing everyone who wants a test — instead, people who are not at serious risk from coronavirus should stay home and self-quarantine so tests can be saved for people who are more at risk.

More tests have become available in recent days and testing is being done, officials said, which partly explains the spike in positive coronavirus cases.

Officials expect there to be even more positive cases in the days to come.

Coronavirus Cases

• There have been 288 cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Tuesday afternoon. Some of those patients have recovered since testing positive.

• There are 63 cases of COVID-19 in Chicago.

• A Chicago woman in her 60s died of coronavirus on Tuesday, marking Illinois’ first death from the illness.

• New confirmed cases have been reported at DePaul University, Columbia College and the University of Chicago.  Six cases of coronavirus have been tied to Chicago’s Lycée Français school in Ravenswood.

What’s Happening In Chicago

Bills and Tickets: The city will stop ticketing and booting cars and collecting debt until at least April 30.

However, a city program that promised to cut utility bills for low-income residents and families by up to 50 percent and to have past-due balances forgiven has been put on hold.

• Restaurants and Bars: Eateries around the city closed their dining rooms — or closed completely — Monday night. Some will still offer drive-thru, pickup and delivery options.

Helping Workers: Aldermen are calling for the city to launch an emergency fund to help workers hurt by coronavirus.

Restaurant owners and chefs are teaming up to ask to the state to help them and their staff members, who face financial difficulties with the closures.

And here’s a guide for getting unemployment, rent relief and more if coronavirus has impacted your job.

• Chicago Public Schools: Schools closed starting Tuesday. Some people are finding alternative ways to educate kids: MASK, a South Side group, has created shipping container schools with class sizes of just 10 kids.

The district will hand out three days of food for all children in a family 9 a.m.-1 p.m. daily at every school. Those needing emergency delivery can call 773-553-KIDS.

Election Day: Voter turnout on Tuesday fell sharply, with some voters expressing worries about going to the polls amid the outbreak.

Weed: Curbside weed sales are being allowed for medical marijuana patients due to the outbreak.

Funerals: The city’s funeral homes are limiting the crowds at services because of the virus.

Violence Interrupters: Nearly 200 street outreach workers are still patrolling Chicago’s streets — but now they’re also helping tell people about the outbreak.

Work Out: Planet Fitness is closing locations, Midtown Athletic laid off 2,000 workers and other gyms are taking similar measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

One trainer is helping hundreds work out at home, though.

• Artists: Local musicians and artists are suffering because of the bans on public gatherings, but Chicagoans have started streaming live shows to help those in need.

• Salons: Many salons are closing up shop voluntarily as coronavirus spreads, but others have remained open so they can pay stylists.

• LGBTQIA: The Brave Space Alliance is creating a crisis pantry for queer and trans residents on the South Side.

• O’Hare Airport: The airport was overwhelmed with crowds over the weekend, leading to some people waiting seven or more hours to be cleared of coronavirus and able to go home.

But Lightfoot and Pritzker have appealed to federal authorities, who agreed to send in more personnel and “deputize” Fire Department EMTs so there’d be more people available to screen travelers.

• Blood Donations: Blood donation organizations have said there is an urgent shortage of blood for people in need. Pritzker urged people to donate blood if they feel well — and said not doing so could cause a second health crisis.

• Grocery Stores: Officials have repeatedly urged Chicagoans not to hoard and stockpile food and home supplies at the city’s extremely busy stores.

“Buy what you need, but please be reasonable. Think of your friends and your neighbors. There is enough food to go around, but we need people to not be selfish,” Pritzker said.

Jewel-Osco is hiring as demand for groceries has skyrocketed.

• Shelters: Animal shelters like PAWS Chicago and One Tail at a Time are seeking more foster families as they worry their shelters won’t have enough staff and could be overwhelmed due to the virus.

• Helping Hands: People around the city are doing good deeds, like buying groceries for older folks.

• Chicago Attractions: Most major attractions — from the Lincoln Park Zoo to Navy Pier and even the Bean — are closed.

• Incarcerated People: The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is taking more precautionary measures to protect staff and detainees, it announced in a news release.

That means all non-staff members, including visitors and attorneys, will be screened for coronavirus. Those with symptoms will be denied entry.

Visitors will only be able to visit one person once a week for 15 minutes until further notice, as well, and staff are ramping up their cleaning efforts.

 Helping Seniors: My Block, My Hood, My City is collecting disinfectant supplies to pass out to people who are elderly or who have disabilities. Food pantries on the West Side are offering pick up and delivery options for those in need. I Grow Englewood is seeking donations for elderly residents, as well.

Are you having trouble accessing a COVID-19 test? Email us at newsroom@blockclubchi.org

Symptoms

Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

The CDC only recommends those are already sick wear facemasks because they help you avoid spreading the virus.

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where corona is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been advised to stay home.

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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