April 29, 2009

Daley, City Officials Update Residents on Efforts to Deal with Swine Flu

First Probable Case in City is Identified
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

First Probable Case in City is Identified

The City of Chicago is “as prepared as it can be” to deal with any spread of swine flu, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.

"I want to remind everyone in the city that that is a time to be alert, be aware and be prepared -- but certainly not to panic," the Mayor said at a news conference held with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and other city and state officials at the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), 1411 W. Madison St.

Late yesterday, the Chicago Department of Public Health became aware of a probable case of swine flu in a child who attends the Kilmer School on the North Side and promptly notified officials at the Chicago Public Schools, who have decided to close the school temporarily.

At the moment, there are no other known cases of swine flu at the Kilmer School, but as public health authorities have said repeatedly, the swine flu situation is fluid and changes from day to day.

Daley said that as swine flu has spread across the United States and around the world, Chicago public health officials have said publicly that they anticipate seeing cases in Chicago and the surrounding area.

"So yesterday's announcement of a case in Northern Indiana and today's announcement of a case in the city are not a surprise," Daley said.

The Mayor said that to coordinate the City's response to the swine flu situation, it is activating the Joint Operation Center led by the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and including the Police and Fire Departments, the Aviation and Health Departments, the 311 Center, CPS and the Department of Family and Support Services.

He encouraged Chicagoans to visit the www.alertchicago.org/ website to receive emergency preparedness tips.

At the website, residents can also sign up to receive "Notify Chicago" alerts. The City already has been proactively sending facts about the swine flu using this free paging system.

Daley identified several steps already taken by City agencies regarding the swine flu:

  • The Health Department has a swine flu fact sheet available onlinewww.cityofchicago.org/swineflu/
  • in English, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese, Burmese and Russian.
  • Chicago Public schools has launched an internal notifications process to all schools and faculty about what to expect and what students and parents should do.
  • In addition, the school system will send letters to parents and guardians in both Spanish and Polish about the situation and safeguards that should be taken.
  • The Department of Aviation is working closely with city and federal agencies and the airlines to raise traveler awareness about swine flu.
  • DOA is posting highly visible signage at key arrival and departure passenger traffic areas at the airports with information on flu symptoms and preventive measures to be taken to prevent the spread of illness.
  • The Aviation Department is distributing the federal government's Traveler Health Alert Notice handouts, in English and Spanish, to its airline partners for distribution from all ticket counters.

Daley also reminded everyone that there are simple steps that should be taken that help prevent disease:

  • Cover your cough
  • Cover your sneeze
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water and teach your children to do the same
  • When sick, stay home and get better. Don't spread a cold or flu at work, at school, at a store or at church.