Murphy’s Capitol Report: Coronavirus – Know the facts and precautions to stay healthy

While I want to emphasize that the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) to the general public remains low, it is important for all of us to know the facts and preventative measures taking place so we can help prevent the spread of respiratory illness. To this end, I have added a “COVID-19” resources page to my website, which has links to detailed information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). This information includes symptoms, prevention and treatment information, and provides updates from the CDC and IDPH as new information becomes available.  Click Here.

As part of a continuing coordinated response, Governor Pritzker has issued a disaster proclamation to allow Illinois to access additional federal resources. The proclamation formalizes emergency procedures already underway across the state by activating the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to deploy other resources to address the issue.

Public health officials encourage the public to follow the same precautions as flu season to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Clean often touched surfaces frequently;
  • Maintain social distance (3 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid visiting long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, especially if you’re sick;
  • Stay home if you do not feel well;
  • Plan a safe visit to the doctor if you experience any symptoms.

Following CDC guidance and recommendations by local public health experts, the State of Illinois is recommending additional precautionary measures for large events and gatherings to promote social distancing practices – a key recommendation to prevent community spread of the virus with the least disruption possible to people’s daily lives.

Community Events:

  • The State is mandating all large-scale events exceeding 1,000 individuals be cancelled for the next 30 days.
  • Additionally, the State is encouraging that community events of 250 people or more should be cancelled or postponed until May 1. This includes personal and social events. Residents should use good judgment about canceling events in their own communities.
  • For events less than 250 people, residents should closely consider who is likely to attend the event and, if it includes vulnerable populations, strongly consider canceling.
  • All major sporting events with large spectator crowds should be cancelled until May 1. This should include school and college events as well as major league sporting events.

Schools:

  • At this time, the State does not recommend that school be cancelled. While schools will remain open, local jurisdictions should develop their own local guidance.
  • The State of Illinois is working closely with school districts around the state on their own guidance and policies, and currently recommends schools do not hold large assemblies, including sports with spectators exceeding 250 people. While every school district is different, the State encourages school administrators and faculty to make responsible decisions, guided by recommendations from the CDC and the state, that are in the best interest of the health and safety of their students.

Businesses and Workplaces:

  • The State encourages businesses across the state to take advantage of teleworking capabilities.
  • Every business that can have employees work remotely should consider doing so.
  • For those who cannot, employers are encouraged to take proper precautions to keep individuals safe in the workplace. This includes reminding staff to stay home when sick or with a fever; considering a plan for teleworking where feasible; remaining flexible on leave policies; and promoting robust mitigation approaches, such as hand washing, cleaning, and offering hand sanitizer.

Elections:

  • The election will proceed as scheduled on Tuesday, March 17. This is a fundamental function of government, and the state is committed to making sure the election proceeds with as little disruption as possible.
  • Local jurisdictions are encouraged to expand hours for early voting over the weekend to reduce the number of people who would need to vote on Election Day.

Vulnerable Populations:

  • The State continues to focus outreach efforts for those most vulnerable to severe illness from the coronavirus, our elderly and immunocompromised residents.
  • Individuals who fall into these categories should take extra caution when attending gatherings of any size and avoid exposure to large groups of people whenever possible.
  • The state has implemented new staffing procedures and strict guidelines restricting visitors at state-operated long-term care facilities and is also working closely with private nursing home and assisted living associations on the adoption of similar guidelines.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has a statewide COVID-19 hotline and website to answer any questions from the public or to report a suspected case: call 1-800-889-3931 or visit IDPH.illinois.gov.

My office is will also continue to serve as a resource for constituents. Whether you have questions about COVID-19 or another state issue, feel free to call the office at (217) 782-0044 or email at murphy@ilhousegop.org.