Will County officials held a press conference today to discuss steps that the county is taking to address concerns around COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Officials stressed that the general public is safe and that there has not been an outbreak or any reports of coronavirus in Will County to date.
“One of the main things that individuals can do right now is help us prevent the spread of the virus,” said County Health Department Executive Director Susan Olenek. “If you feel sick, stay home. Call your doctor and make an appointment, but stay home as much as possible.”
The Will County Health Department has created a special page dedicated to providing updates about COVID-19. The website has daily updates about the virus as well as tips for what to do if you feel sick as well as ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Health Department officials stress that if an individual is feeling sick, they should stay home. Everyone is being encouraged to avoid large public gatherings and wash their hands frequently. Olenek did say that people have been coming to the Health Department for testing but that you should be in contact with your doctor’s office regarding testing criteria. She asked that individuals not come to the health department regarding testing.
“Will County has a robust response team ready for any potential viral outbreak,” said Will County Speaker Denise Winfrey (D-Joliet). “Our emergency response teams involve many moving parts and include multiple agencies to ensure that all of our bases are covered.”
Winfrey said that at this time there does not appear to be an outbreak of COVID-19 in Will County but that officials are coordinating with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control to address what the World Health Organization has deemed a pandemic. She also asked everyone to remain calm during this difficult time.
“We are constantly reviewing and updating our action plans based on the direction from the Federal and State government,” said Nick Palmer, Chief of Staff for Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “There are a lot of components to this issue. We continue to monitor the progress on testing suspected cases of infection and taking appropriate mitigation measures. The most important thing Will County government can do is ensure public safety and keep residents informed of new developments.” Palmer also reiterated that their are no cases of Covid-19 in Will County.
One area of special concern has been at the Sunny Hill Nursing Home which is operated by Will County. Nursing home officials have said that it is best for family and friends to limit visits to nursing homes at this point. They ask that you call ahead before visiting and clear your visit with the staff at Sunny Hill. Sunny Hill Nursing Home residents are being monitored around the clock and extra cleaning and sanitization has been introduced to strengthen existing efforts.
“Our residents tend to be frail and may have multiple illnesses to begin with,” said Sunny Hill Administrator Maggie McDowell. “One of our concerns is that someone who has no symptoms but is a carrier of the virus could bring that bug in to our facility.”
People looking for more information about the coronavirus and Will County’s response can find information at https://willcountyhealth.org/coronavirus-information/ or by calling the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800 889-3931.