October 17, 2014

Mayor Emanuel, Cabinet Members, Public Health Officials and Hospital Leaders Discuss City’s Preparedness for Ebola

CDPH continues coordination efforts with city health, public safety and transportation leaders

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Emanuel meets with public health officials, cabinet members and hospital leaders on Ebola preparedness.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today convened cabinet members, public health officials and hospital leaders to discuss the city’s preparedness for the Ebola virus. Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair conducted a precautionary briefing at the Mayor’s request to discuss the public and private sector coordination strategies and existing preparedness efforts.

“This meeting solidifies our city’s readiness during a time of heightened awareness of Ebola. The City of Chicago has long-established and successful procedures in place when preparing and executing emergency health services,” said Mayor Emanuel. “While the risk to Chicago residents remains low, out of an abundance of caution, CDPH has set in place coordinated efforts with all of the city’s public safety and transportation departments to handle any potential threats this virus may present to our residents.”
Over the past two weeks, once the first Ebola case was detected in United States, the City of Chicago began coordinating preparedness efforts with health leaders and city public safety departments to ensure first responders were fully aware of the on ground efforts and ready to work in coordination in anticipation of any potential health risk entering the city. CDPH has established precautionary protocols as well as screening and testing procedures under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure the health and safety of Chicago residents and travelers.

"While our health department and private hospitals are well- prepared and equipped for the spread of any infectious disease that may pose a threat to our city, it is important to remember how unlikely the risk of Ebola is to Chicago’s residents,” said Commissioner Choucair. “We will continue to proceed with the upmost precaution in all potential cases that may enter our city.”
Proactive efforts with CDPH, city departments and health centers currently underway include:

  • Leading regular briefings with Chicago hospitals to ensure CDC recommendations are implemented, to provide advice and guidance for hospitals preparing for possible scenarios and to facilitate sharing of hospital-specific protocols.
  • Participating in ongoing CDC calls regarding contact tracing issues – with prepared documents to track contacts and working to have thermometers ready for twice daily temperature check.
  • Provided updated training to EMS and other first responders to reaffirm proper safety procedures for infectious diseases. 
  • Coordinated with CFD to modify 911 scripts to include questions on travel history to affected areas, in order to ensure appropriate response from first responders. Dispatchers are being trained on updates.
  • Outreach to community organizations – particularly those in Chicago’s West African communities – to make health professionals available to address any questions or concerns. 
  • Created and disseminated a fact sheet for residents, including information on transmission and symptoms and translating the fact sheet into Spanish, Polish, Chinese, French and Tagalog
  • Worked closely with CDA and CDC to review and implement airport screenings for inbound passengers residing in or traveling from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – the nations hardest hit by Ebola. The new screening procedures were implemented at O’Hare, as well as Atlanta, Newark, New York City and Dulles airports.
  •     o Together, these airports account for roughly 94% of inflow from these three nations. O’Hare airport sees about 10-20 passengers/day from these nations.
  •     o Deployed CDPH-CDC assignees to O’Hare Quarantine Station to assist in screenings.
  • Developed and distributed guidance to local Colleges and Universities preparing for handling an unlikely Ebola case.


Photo Caption: Mayor Emanuel meets with public health officials, cabinet members and hospital leaders on Ebola preparedness.

Photo Credit: Brooke Collins // City of Chicago