What to Know
- The latest patient had “close contact” and recently reported symptoms, health officials said
- The man is the second person in Illinois to be diagnosed and the sixth confirmed case in the U.S.
- The man’s wife first contracted the virus after she traveled to Wuhan, China – the epicenter of a recent outbreak. She returned to the U.S. on Jan. 13 and later started experiencing symptoms
A Chicago company said it is working with health officials after an employee was identified as the latest coronavirus patient in Illinois.
Development and contractor firm PIRHL, LLC said it was “informed that an employee based in Chicago may have contracted 2019 novel coronavirus.” The company said it is working with state and city health officials to “take necessary precautions and provide information requested by them and the CDC.”
Sources told NBC 5 Investigates the employee is the man who health officials said Thursday had tested positive for the virus.
“This employee is based in Chicago and visited the Cleveland office on January 14th. According to the Ohio Department of Health, this individual was not symptomatic and is not considered a risk to anyone he came in contact with during his time in Cleveland,” the company said in its statement. “Upon learning of this information, immediate action was taken.”
The firm said it was working to provide information on anyone who the employee may have had contact with.
“The priority at this time is providing relevant information to authorities and ensuring the health and safety of employees,” the statement read.
Most recently, family of the man told NBC News his infant grandson had developed a fever and is being tested for the virus.
The baby and other family members who had close contact were under isolation following the recent diagnosis. The infant was taken to an area hospital after his fever developed, though it remains unclear if the child was experiencing any other symptoms and the cause of the fever remained unclear.
At least 21 people were under investigation for potential coronavirus exposure in Illinois as of Thursday, state health officials said.
The Chicago man this week became the second person to test positive in the state and the first case of human-to-human transmission in the U.S., health officials announced. The man’s wife, who had traveled to Wuhan, China – the epicenter of the recent outbreak – was diagnosed with coronavirus last week.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and the status of individuals will change as we investigate,” said Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The pair had been in “close contact” before the virus spread, health officials said. Both were hospitalized in Hoffman Estates.
“This may be concerning, but based on what we know now, our assessment remains that the immediate risk to the American public is low,” said Robert Redfield with the CDC.
The woman was diagnosed with the virus after she returned to the U.S. earlier this month and started experiencing symptoms including a fever and shortness of breath.
She had “very limited movement outside her home” following her return from China, public health officials said, and did not take public transit or attend any large gatherings.
“Again this is not spreading widely in communities and the general public is believed to be at low risk,” said Jennifer Layden, Illinois state epidemiologist.
Still, DuPage County health officials said Wednesday they were contacting residents who may have been exposed to the Chicago woman, saying that some residents “meet the definition of persons under investigation and who are currently being tested.”
“It can be a point of concern but we are not considering it to be a point of panic or alarm,” said DuPage County Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala, adding that the “general population is at low risk.”
The department declined to give numbers on how many people were contacted but said members of the community “have had some sort of contact” with the Chicago woman.
“In a county of a million, it’s a very small amount of folks,” Ayala said.
While there are many questions still left to be answered on the new virus, such as how quickly it spreads, the CDC said it expected some person-to-person cases to develop.
The latest diagnosis brings the total number of cases in the US to six, though the five other patients had each traveled to the hardest-hit part of China before becoming ill.
Confirmed Coronavirus Cases
The Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers of Disease and Control issued a statement Tuesday indicating that they have identified a person who could potentially be infected with the novel coronavirus.
“Final diagnosis awaits the results of laboratory tests to be performed by the CDC,” the statement read. “Out of an abundance of caution, the individual has been placed in isolation and is currently under active medical supervision.”
The virus has already killed more than 200 people and infected nearly 10,000 across the globe, sparking travel warnings and airport screenings in multiple countries.
British Airways has halted all flights to China and American Airlines stopped flights out of Los Angeles to and from Shanghai and Beijing. Delta Airlines announced Friday it has decided to temporarily suspend all U.S. flights to China flying beginning next week — and lasting through April — due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus.
Citizens from the US and European countries have been evacuated from central China due to concerns over the virus.