Frequently Asked Questions

Updated as of 4/03/2020

GENERAL INFORMATION

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. The best way to prevent infection is to stay home, wash your hands often and practice social distancing.

The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

How does the virus spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How is it treated?

There is no specific medicine to treat COVID-19 infection at this time, though studies are underway. People sick with COVID-19 should receive supportive care from a health care professional. Supportive care means care to help relieve symptoms; for example, medicine to bring down fevers, or oxygen if a patient’s oxygen level is low.

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

Diagnosis occurs through laboratory testing of respiratory specimens such as a  nasal swab. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you could have COVID-19.

 

People of all ages can get sick with COVID-19 and it’s important for everyone to take special precautions. Most cases of COVID-19 result in mild illness. To date, children also seem less likely to become ill. But people who are older or those who have other health conditions are more likely to have serious illness. Those at higher risk from include:

  • People over 60 years of age. The risk increases significantly thereafter and escalates with age, with persons over age 80 in the highest risk category.
  • People, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems.

If you're at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you need to seek medical care early, even if your illness is mild. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.

The Chicago Department of Public Health does not perform COVID-19 testing and the hotline does not make decisions about who should be tested. People with symptoms who are at higher risk for serious illness (people 65 and older and people who have underlying chronic health conditions) should call their healthcare provider to determine if testing is necessary.
 
Please follow the guidance below or use the CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker to make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. Call 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

No Symptoms:

  • If you don't have any symptoms, you do NOT need to be tested for COVID-19.

Mild Symptoms:

  • If you're at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider early, even if your illness is mild. Your healthcare provider will evaluate your health and decide whether you need to be tested.
  • If you're NOT at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you do NOT need to be evaluated in person and do NOT need to be tested for COVID-19. Keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and if you're mildly ill, there is no need to call your healthcare provider. You should stay home away from others.

Severe Symptoms:

  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or difficulty waking up
    • Bluish lips or face

CDPH strongly recommends avoiding travel to countries and areas where we see widespread sustained transmission of COVID-19. Because COVID-19 can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, people in these groups should avoid all non-essential travel. If you must travel, take the following routine precautions:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
    • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

The latest travel updates are available on CDC’s COVID-19 web page for travelers.

Travelers returning from any country with a Travel Alert Level 3 should stay home and monitor their health for up to 14 days. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow the spread of this virus. 

  • Do not go to school or work. Absences for this purpose should be excused and alternate arrangements should be made for teleworking and online school assignments.
  • Take your temperature with a thermometer 2 times a day and watch your health.
  • If you develop a fever (100.4F/38C) or cough, seek medical care right away. Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them your symptoms and that you were in an affected area. You could also call CDPH at 312-746-7425 (SICK) during business hours, after hours call 311 and request to speak to the Medical Director on call. In the case of a medical emergency, call 911.

Travelers returning from any country with a Travel Alert Level 2 are also encouraged to monitor their health but do not need to limit their movement or activity. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, and tell them about your symptoms and your recent travel to an area with community spread of COVID-19.

What if I recently traveled to an area affected by COVID-19 and got sick?

If you were in a country with a COVID-19 outbreak and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, within 14 days after you left, you should

  • Seek medical advice – Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel on public transportation while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

If you are a healthcare provider, be on the look-out for:

  • People who recently traveled from China or another affected area and who have symptoms associated with COVID-19, and
  • People who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or pneumonia of unknown cause.

New CDC Interim Infection Control Guidance now allows for testing in the outpatient settings. Patients and community members should not be directed to local health departments (including the CDPH coronavirus hotline or CDPH SICK line) for decision making about testing. PUI authorization is now completed online: providers should not call CDPH or 311 for routine PUI authorization, instead complete the online form and you will receive authorization codes by email. Further guidance and additional information can be found at www.chicagohan.org/COVID-19.

 

To ensure the protection of all residents under this unprecedented public health challenge, the State of Illinois issued a statewide order that requires all residents to stay home, unless traveling for essential needs, and requires businesses not engaged in essential activities to cease all activities except for minimum basic operations. The order is in effect across the State of Illinois and will remain in place until the Governor’s Disaster Proclamation expires on April 30.

During the order, residents can still fulfill all of their essential needs, including:

  • Traveling to obtain necessary supplies, including food, pet supplies, medicine, or take-out food;
  • Attending appointments at a hospital or mental health provider;
  • Visiting private businesses that offer essential services, including pharmacies, hardware stores, banks, and laundromats; and
  • Using city or state governmental services, including fire and police.

Under the order, individuals will no longer be able to engage in public or private group activities, participate in social activities at bars or nightclubs, or take unnecessary trips. When going out in public residents should practice social distancing, defined as maintaining at least six feet of distancing from others, and other everyday preventative actions such as washing hands, covering coughs or sneezes, regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.

Businesses not engaged in essential activities must cease all activities except for minimum basic operations, which includes activities to preserve inventory, process payroll, or facilitate working from home. Essential businesses that remain open must take proactive measures to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements. Residents and employees can call 3-1-1 to report businesses that are operating in violation of the order.

To learn more see Chicago Stay at Home Order Frequently Asked Questions.

INFORMATION FOR INDIVIDUALS

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way for all Chicagoans to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 is to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing when going out in public. Everyone should follow these everyday preventative actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Do not shake hands. Try alternatives like an elbow bump or wave.
  • Put at least 6ft distance between yourself and other people when traveling for work, going to the grocery store or picking up medication at the pharmacy. If possible, walk or bike.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially if you are at higher risk for serious illness.
  • If you’re sick, stay home except to get medical care. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.  If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. See CDC’s recommendations for household cleaning and disinfection.
  • Put at least 6ft distance between yourself and other people when traveling for work, going to the grocery store or picking up medication at the pharmacy. If possible, walk or bike.
  • If you have recently returned from a country, state or region with ongoing spread of COVID-19, monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
  • Remind yourself, your family and your friends that feeling sad, anxious, overwhelmed or having other symptoms of distress such as trouble sleeping is normal. If symptoms become worse, encourage them, and yourself, to reach out for support and help. Check out these free mental health resources available to all Chicago residents.

Do I need to wear a mask?

The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The covering can be a scarf, a bandana or one you make at home. Please save medical masks, including N95s and surgical masks, for our healthcare workers and first responders who truly need them.

Face coverings are intended as a precaution to protect others in case you have contracted COVID-19 but don’t yet have symptoms. This guidance is in response to new studies that have shown that people can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. The best measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 remain good hand hygiene, social distancing, not touching your face, and staying home, especially when you are sick. Illinois remains under a Stay at Home order and people should NOT feel they can go outside more because they are wearing a mask.   

Do I need to wear gloves?

CDPH doesn’t recommend wearing rubber gloves while out in public. Regularly washing your bare hands offers more protection than wearing rubber gloves. You can still pick up COVID-19 contamination on rubber gloves. If you then touch your face, the contamination goes from your glove to your face and can infect you.

Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The most common signs and symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, which are similar to the symptoms of influenza and other respiratory viruses. Community spread of COVID-19 is occurring in Chicago. You generally need to be in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19 to get infected (i.e. being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes). However, you might have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 without even knowing it. If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, follow the steps below to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to people in our homes and communities.

 

Who is at higher risk of severe illness?

Those at higher risk include:

  • People over 60 years of age. The risk increases significantly thereafter and escalates with age, with persons over age 80 in the highest risk category.
  • People, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems.

 

Should I go to my doctor and get tested for COVID-19?

If you have any of the conditions that may increase your risk for a serious viral infection—age 60 years or over, are pregnant, or have medical conditions—call your physician’s office and ask if you need to be evaluated in person. They may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for COVID-19.

If you do NOT have a high-risk condition and your symptoms are mild, you do NOT need to be evaluated in person and do NOT need to be tested for COVID-19. You will receive the same advice whether or not you have a test. For example, there is no special medicine available for treating COVID-19. Most importantly, you must stay home away from others for:

  • at least 7 days since your symptoms first appeared; and,
  • at least 3 days (72 hours) since recovery defined as no fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and improvement in symptoms.

For example, if you have a fever and coughing for 4 days, you need to stay home 3 more days with no fever for a total of 7 days. Or, if you have a fever and coughing for 5 days, you need to stay home 3 more days with no fever for a total of 8 days.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or difficulty awakening the person
  • Bluish lips or face

 

What should I do to protect my family and other people in the community?

Stay home except to get medical care

You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Again, you do not need to seek medical care if your symptoms are mild. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home:

  • People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Animals: Avoid contact with your pet including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. There are not reports of animals being infected

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Monitor your symptoms
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening. Call your healthcare provider and tell them that your symptoms are consistent with COVID-19. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive. If your illness is mild, you do not need to be evaluated by a medical provider, but you should stay home, avoid contact with other people and animals, and monitor your symptoms.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that your symptoms are consistent with COVID-19. Put on a face mask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed.

 

Download as PDF document in EnglishSpanish and Polish.

If you have been exposed to someone with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, follow the steps below to monitor your health and to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to people in our homes and communities.

 

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can spread from person to person. The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Most people with COVID-19 will have mild disease but some people will get sicker and may need to be hospitalized.

Who is at higher risk of severe illness?

Those at higher risk include:

  • People over 60 years of age. The risk increases significantly thereafter and escalates with age, with persons over age 80 in the highest risk category.
  • People, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems.

How do I know if I was exposed?

You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:

  • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19,
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19,
  • Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, OR
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

What should I do if I am a close contact to someone with COVID-19 but am not sick?

You should monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work or school, and should avoid public places for 14 days.

Healthcare professionals, first responders, and other essential frontline workers - you can continue to go to work as long as you have no symptoms. If you have any conditions that may increase your risk for a serious infection, contact your physician’s office and tell them you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Apart from providing essential services, you should avoid public places for 14 days. Continue to self-monitor for symptoms, practice enhanced hand hygiene, social distancing, and follow your organization’s guidance for wearing a surgical mask and/or gloves. Minimize close contact to other household members as best you can (e.g. avoid sharing bathrooms). If you get sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing (even if your symptoms are very mild), you should stay at home and away from other people.

What should I do if I am a close contact to someone with COVID-19 and get sick?

If you get sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing (even if your symptoms are very mild), you should stay at home and away from other people. If you have any of the following conditions that may increase your risk for a serious infection —age 60 years or over, are pregnant, or have medical conditions—contact your physician’s office and tell them that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. They may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for COVID-19.

If you do not have a high-risk condition but want medical advice, you can call your healthcare provider and tell them that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you’re mildly ill, you do not need to be evaluated in person and do not need to be tested for COVID-19. Keep in mind that there are currently no medications to treat COVID-19 and you will receive the same advice whether or not you have a test. Most importantly, stay home away from others for:

  • at least 7 days since your symptoms first appeared; and
  • at least 3 days (72 hours) with no fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and improving symptoms.

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you may have been exposed to COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive or immediately after they arrive.

Download as PDF document

If you are sick and have been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to people in our homes and communities.

 

Stay home except to get medical care

You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Discontinuing home isolation

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must stay home away from others for:

  • at least 7 days since your symptoms first appeared; and
  • at least 3 days (72 hours) with no fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and improving symptoms.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

Animals: Do not handle pets or other animals while sick.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Wear a face mask

You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not be in the same room with you, or they should wear a face mask if they enter your room.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Monitor your symptoms

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have COVID-19. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed.

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.

 

Download as PDF document

Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The most common signs and symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, which are similar to the symptoms of influenza and other respiratory viruses. Some people are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, including:

  • People over 60 years of age. The risk increases significantly thereafter and escalates with age, with persons over age 80 in the highest risk category.
  • People, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems.

When to seek care

If you're at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you need to seek medical care early, even if your illness is mild. Healthcare professionals will evaluate your health and decide whether you need to be tested.

If you're NOT at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you do NOT need to be evaluated in person and do NOT need to be tested for COVID-19. Keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and if you're mildly ill, there is no need to call a healthcare provider. You should stay home away from others.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or difficulty awakening the person
  • Bluish lips or face

What if you don’t have a doctor?

If you do not have a medical provider, are uninsured, or have limited or no income and believe you need non-emergency medical services, you can contact your nearest community health center (CHC) by phone and inform them of your need. They will work with you to coordinate appropriate care. In cases of emergency, please call 911.

There are approximately 165 CHCs throughout the city of Chicago, so find one that is close to you. You can find your nearest CHC at findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov

What is a community health center (CHC)?

CHCs are patient-centered healthcare organizations that serve as a comprehensive and cost-effective primary health care option for America's most underserved communities including persons with limited or no income and the uninsured. CHCs increase access to health care and provide integrated services based on the unique needs of the communities that they serve.

How much do services cost?

CHCs receive funding from the federal government that allows them to charge each patient on a sliding scale fee based on the patient’s income and ability to pay. No patient will be turned away because of inability to pay.

Essential Features of Community Health Centers

  • Located in Areas of High Need
  • Comprehensive Set of Services
  • Open to Everyone
  • Patient Majority Governing Boards

 

Download as PDF document

Under Chicago’s March 18 Public Health Order, residents exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are required to stay at home, even if they work at an essential business. Employers that require sick employees to work, or discipline them for taking sick leave under the Order, could be in violation of Chicago’s Paid Sick Leave law. Employees can call 3-1-1 to submit a complaint.
INFORMATION FOR ORGANIZATIONS

  • Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees. See OSHA COVID-19webpage for more information on how to protect workers from potential exposures and guidance for employers, including steps to take for jobs according to exposure risk.
  • Encourage employees to self-report if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Establish a process to communicate information to employees and business partners. Anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation, and plan communications accordingly.
    • Designate a person in your administration to receive employee self-reports.
    • Create a procedure so that if others in your organization get a self-report of a positive case, the reports are directed to this designated person, either directly by or with the consent of the positive case.
    • Ensure this designated person has access to accurate staff and client contact lists.
    • Human resources or medical staff should serve as the primary contact and resource for employees with personal COVID-19 questions that do not directly affect other individuals in the workplace. If your business does not have human resources or medical staff, or they are unable to answer the questions, refer the individual to contact CDPH at coronavirus@chicago.gov.
  • Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation. Get up-to-date information about local COVID-19 activity at gov/coronavirus and sign up to receive updated guidance from CDPH as it becomes available.

For more information, see CDPH’s COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses and Employers.

  • If someone in the workplace is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection and they self-report, interview them by telephone. Questions to ask include:
    • The last day they were at work.
    • The first day of their symptoms, and importantly, whether they were symptomatic while at work. (If they were not symptomatic while at work, the risk of transmission to others is low.)
    • Individuals at work or school with whom they had prolonged close contact (within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes, for example sharing a desk or workspace, riding and sitting closely within a vehicle) while symptomatic.
  • Ensure the employee is aware that they should stay home and away from others for at least 7 days since their symptoms first appeared and at least 3 days (72 hours) with no fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and improving symptoms. Refer them to this CDPH FAQ on what to do if diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Ensure the employee advises members of their immediate household to self-quarantine for 14 days. Refer them to this CDPH FAQ on what to do if you have been exposed.
  • Test results do not need to be confirmed by CDPH. It is advised that during your interview with the individual that you verbally confirm that they were in fact tested for COVID-19 and had a positive result.
  • Inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fellow employees should then self-monitor for symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or difficulty breathing).
  • Direct close contacts of the employee to stay home and monitor their health for 14 days. Refer them to this CDPH FAQ on what to do if you have been exposed. Do not require close contacts to have negative test results prior to returning to work.
  • Determine if workplace closure is warranted based on factors such as workplace setting, number of employees affected, or clients you serve.
  • Develop communication plans for workplace closure to include outreach to staff, clients, and the community.
  • Provide guidance to staff reminding them of the importance of community social distancing measures while workplace is closed.
  • Perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility. Follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
  • Ensure staffs’ privacy to help prevent discrimination.
  • Refer employees in need of mental health support to the NAMI Chicago helpline at 833-NAMI-CHI (833-626-4244) for a listening ear, mental health information or referrals.
  • Contact the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protectionor visit gov/coronavirus to see what resources are available to businesses, consumers and employees impacted by the COVID-19 Outbreak.

*These guidelines do not apply to higher-risk settings like residential congregate settings, healthcare facilities, or agencies with first responders.

For more information, see CDPH’s COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses and Employers or CDPH's Guidance for Congregate Settings.