On Thursday, January 30, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that Illinois now has 21 PUIs (Persons Under Investigation) for possible 2019-nCoV infection across the State of Illinois. They also confirmed a second 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) case in Illinois, the spouse of the first confirmed case in Illinois. All PUIs in the US are currently being hospitalized. Both of the confirmed cases in Illinois are considered to be in stable condition.

There are no PUIs within Champaign County at this time. While this situation represents the first person-to-person spread of the virus within the United States, THERE IS NO CHANGE IN CDC RECOMMENDATIONS for prevention or screening. There are now six confirmed cases across the US, with now two in Illinois. It is likely there will be other reported cases of person-to-person spread within the US as further PUIs are fully tested. 

McKinley Health Center, and other campus units, have offered surgical masks and recommendations of voluntary self-quarantine as practical considerations for our local campus community with respiratory illness, particularly those students with an epi-link to Wuhan City, China, or the Hubei Province. It is important to note that the CDC DOES NOT CURRENTLY RECOMMEND SURGICAL MASKS, SELF-QUARANTINE, OR CANCELLATION OF EVENTS AS A PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATION. The University of Illinois is following CDC recommendations and focusing on education outreach and control of the spread of all respiratory illnesses, which are high at this time of year.

8 things you can do to help protect yourself include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick (i.e. within 6 feet)
  • Stay away from others when sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Get adequate rest
  • Eat well

McKinley Health Center is exceeding current CDC recommendations by offering and suggesting the use of surgical masks but believes this is a reasonable consideration to help reduce the spread of disease on a busy congested campus. In addition, the university is increasing its education efforts to the campus regarding coronavirus symptoms and safety precautions. These efforts will continue until the coronavirus is no longer a threat to the university or our surrounding community.

With the appearance of this new case and the likelihood additional cases will appear in the next few days as testing is completed on the current PUIs, I expect there to be growing concern on campus among our students and others. Concerned students with symptoms are encouraged to call the McKinley Dial-A-Nurse at (217) 333-2700 to discuss their symptoms and seek advice.

Soon, the period of primary risk from travel contact will end. Until then, I believe that working together as a campus family will help keep everyone safe.

Robert Parker, FACP, MBA, MD
Director, McKinley Health Center

Friday, January 31, 2020 - 08:30