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Local News

Kendall County Health Department chief provides update on coronavirus

One known case in Illinois, but none yet in Kendall County, board told

Dr. Amaal Tokars, executive director for the Kendall County Health Department, listens during a Tuesday, Feb. 4 County Board meeting at the county office building, 111 W. Fox St. in Yorkville.
Dr. Amaal Tokars, executive director for the Kendall County Health Department, listens during a Tuesday, Feb. 4 County Board meeting at the county office building, 111 W. Fox St. in Yorkville.

YORKVILLE – With the numbers rising for active cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, the head local health official for the county made additional comments about the outbreak during a county government meeting this week.

Dr. Amaal Tokars, executive director for the Kendall County Health Department, said during the Tuesday, Feb. 4 County Board meeting that there have been a lot more cases of 2019-nCoV worldwide lately, especially considering there were less than 100 cases about two weeks ago and still not a lot being known about the coronavirus currently.

“Thus far, there have been no positive cases of individuals with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Kendall County,” Tokars said.

According to a data map maintained by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, there are more than 28,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide and more than 560 total deaths as of 4:50 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6. There also have been 12 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. so far.

“So it really escalated very quickly,” Tokars said.

The update comes after health officials previously confirmed there were no known cases of the coronavirus in Kendall County, despite there being a new confirmed case of the coronavirus in Illinois that was the first recorded person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus in the United States.

Tokars said the number of 2019 coronavirus cases have surpassed the total number of cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. There were about 8,000 cases of SARS between 2002 and 2004 and even less for MERS since 2012, she said.

Kendall County Board member Audra Hendrix said she wanted to stress how highly contageous the virus is and for members of the public to take extra steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Those precautions include thorough hand washing, not touching your face, and properly disposing of things that are used for nose-blowing or covering sneezes or coughs.

“It’s very serious, because it’s spreading before people even know they’re sick," Hendrix said. "That’s why it’s [spreading] like wildfire.”

Tokars also reminded County Board members and the public that, while it's important to be aware of what's going on with the spread of 2019-nCoV, it also has been a significant influenza season in the U.S. She said it has also been the country's highest pediatric death rate for the flu since the Centers for Disease Control has been counting in the early 2000s, with nearly 70 pediatric deaths for the flu so far this season.

County Board chairman Scott Gryder said he appreciated Tokars talking about what's going on with the coronavirus and influenza alike. He said a lot of local health professionals have been expressing their concern about the spread of the influenza A and B viruses in particular.

“There’s obvious concern about the coronavirus, but they’re more concerned about the flu right now because it’s been an extremely difficult season for it,” Gryder said.

Tokars said those who think they may have the coronavirus are advised to call ahead to their health providers to help prevent the spread of the virus in waiting rooms for doctor's offices, for example. And, she said, there's also no such thing as a silly question when it comes to the coronavirus or screening for the virus to help make the public safer.

“It doesn’t hurt to call," Tokars said. "They can either call their healthcare provider or they’re very welcome to call us, and people are doing that.”

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