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City Employee Dies From Coronavirus, Mayor Lightfoot Says

"This sobering moment should remind us that the numbers we report every day are not mere statistics," Lightfoot said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a press conference announcing a statewide stay-in-place order Friday, March 20.
Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — A city employee has died of coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.

Lightfoot, speaking during a press conference, said it was a “sad day.” She declined to say which department the employee worked in, but said she’d reached out to the man’s family and coworkers to offer “sincere condolences and support.”

“I can say the employee was longstanding, beloved by family and coworkers,” Lightfoot said. “Our hearts go out to everyone who has been part of this individual’s life.

“This sobering moment should remind us that the numbers we report every day are not mere statistics. They are people whose lives have been forever changed and a network of people, connected by crisis, who need us to do everything we can, every day, to save lives.”

Lightfoot said she did not know the employee personally and said she had not come into contact with him. She declined to name the man, saying she was not certain all of his family had been told of his death.

The man’s colleagues have been notified of his illness, Lightfoot said, and the city is doing a “deep cleaning” of any work environment he might have been in.

Lightfoot urged people to stay at home as much as possible as the virus spreads in Chicago and Illinois. Following guidance — like staying home and washing your hands frequently — can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and, in turn, save lives.

There have been 2,611 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Chicago as of Tuesday afternoon. Throughout Illinois, there have been 5,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 99 deaths from it.

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 or cough 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 COVID-19 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 ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.

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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