Illinois Becomes First State To Test For Novel Coronavirus

WBBM Newsradio Staff
February 12, 2020 - 9:17 am
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinois is boosting its efforts to detect and precent coronavirus. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that it is now able to conduct testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus, making Illinois the first state to be able to do testing in state. 

The IDPH said once specimens from individuals are received, test results are typically available in 24 hours.

“The ability to do this testing will mean we will be able to detect any new cases of novel coronavirus earlier and prevent any possible spread,” said IDPH Assistant Director Evonda Thomas-Smith, in a statement.  “We understand there is concern about this new virus, which is why having test results back quickly can help reduce some of those concerns.”

On Feb. 5, the CDC began shipping 2019-nCoV laboratory test kits to select qualified U.S. and international laboratories. The test is intended for use with upper and lower respiratory specimens collected from people who meet CDC criteria for 2019-nCoV testing - including looking at travel and/or exposure history, as well as symptoms and/or fever. 

IDPH is in the process of bringing testing for 2019-nCoV online in its Springfield and Carbondale laboratories.

In addition to the testing, IDPH along with the Illinois Poison Center set up a hotline for residents across the state to call if they have questions about this new coronavirus.  Residents in Illinois outside Chicago can call the hotline at 800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@illinois.gov.  The number for Chicago residents is 312-746-4835 Monday through Friday during business hours and 311 during evenings, weekends, and holidays, or email coronavirus@chicago.gov.       

“It’s an exciting development to be able to add this tool to our arsenal as we work to limit the spread of this virus,” said Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, in a statement. “A quicker response will help alleviate concerns of those being tested as well as the general public.  We continue to work very closely with federal, state, and local partners to ensure that we have a robust and coordinated public health response to emerging infectious diseases.”

Currently in Illinois, two people have tested positive for coronavirys. The IDPH said 44 test results have come back negative.