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Archived (February 2020): Community Health and Safety Preparedness


Find the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic and the City's response at the COVID-19 hub, This news article was posted in February 2020, and remains archived on the City's website for informational purposes. For the most recent information, visit

Community Health and Safety Preparedness

February 27, 2020 -- The City of Highland Park has an emergency operations plan in place and is prepared in the event our area is impacted by the coronavirus disease or other emergency matters. The City Manager’s Office, Police, and Fire Departments are in communication with Highland Park Hospital, Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, and Illinois Department of Public Health in addition to area partner agencies, and all are taking steps to prepare, prevent and recover should our area be impacted.

The coronavirus disease (or COVID-19) causes a respiratory illness. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. While the risk to the general public remains low, the information below will help you to take everyday preventive actions and make an informed assessment about this coronavirus outbreak. A proactive approach – like staying home when you are sick, washing your hands often and cleaning frequently used surfaces – can help prevent the spread of illness.

According to the CDC’s current risk assessment, “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though still relatively low risk of exposure.”

At the March 9, 2020 City Council meeting, Mayor Nancy Rotering reaffirmed the City’s commitment to public health as one of the City’s highest priorities. City Manager Ghida Neukirch shared information about the City’s ongoing efforts to respond proactively to developments regarding coronavirus disease. City Manager Neukirch presented an overview of COVID-19, reviewed guidelines from the CDC to help prevent the spread of illness, and discussed highlights of the City’s emergency preparedness plan. Slides from this presentation are accessible on the City’s website, and the video is available here.

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Please note that this is a developing situation. Access the latest news and guidance about the coronavirus from the CDC here.

COVID-19, known informally as the coronavirus, is an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a new virus that was first detected in China in 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to the disease caused by this new virus as COVID-19.

COVID-19 causes a respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. According to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through close contact with an infected person, including sneezing or coughing. While it may be possible that a person can contract COVID-19 from a contaminated surface, the CDC reports that this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Practicing good preventive actions, like frequent hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting commonly used surfaces and avoiding close contact with people who are sick can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19. See below for additional information regarding infectious disease prevention, reporting, and response.  

Symptoms & Reporting in Lake County
The Lake County Health Department is closely monitoring this developing situation, and is providing updates on COVID-19 via the LCHD website as information becomes available.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe, and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to the coronavirus either through travel to an affected area within the last two weeks or exposure to someone who may have COVID-19, LCHD recommends contacting your doctor or local hospital. If your healthcare professional believes there is cause for concern after assessing your health and history, the Lake County Health Department will follow up with you directly to provide further instructions.

You may also contact the Illinois COVID-19 hotline with any questions you might have, either by phone at 1(800) 889-3931 or by email at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a number of recommendations for individuals and employers to stay healthy, prevent the spread of coronavirus, flu, the common cold, and other illnesses, as well as travel recommendations on their website:  

Below are additional helpful web links and useful information related to the prevention and preparation of the Coronavirus.

Currently, there is no vaccine and no drugs for the Coronavirus, which leave us with non-pharmaceutical interventions, or NPIs. Here are some NPIs recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For more information about handwashing, visit CDC’s Handwashing website at For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings at

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.

Information for Businesses & Employers
Employers play a key role in promoting healthy communities. The CDC recommends that employers encourage sick employees to stay home, especially if they have had a fever of 100.4°F or higher. Employees should be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before returning to work. For additional best practices, the CDC offers guidance for an informed response from employers. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has prepared a useful fact sheet for businesses and employers

The CDC provides updates for business and leisure travelers as information becomes available. View CDC’s specific guidance for travelers at

Special guidance for healthcare professionals is also available.

The information on this page is adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Lake County Health Department. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions about symptoms of COVID-19 or if you require medical advice for yourself or your family.