3/9/20 - IDHS Staff Message from Secretary Hou: COVID-19

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

Monday, March 9th, 2020


Dear Colleagues,


Last week, I shared information with all IDHS staff about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).


Today, I am writing to remind all staff at IDHS to follow common-sense, best practices related to the prevention of illness - along with some further guidance that may be helpful. (For your convenience, the March 4 memo from CMS that should be posted at all State Government work locations is also attached.)


I also want you to know about the Illinois COVID-19 Hotline (1-800-889-3931) and dedicated email account: dph.sick@illinois.gov.


Reminder on best practices:

  • Wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • Avoid the touching of eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staff are asked to stay home if they exhibit flu or flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, shortness of breath, cough).
  • Cover mouth and nose with the inside of the arm or with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue away immediately. Wash hands as soon as possible afterward.


Related information:

  • Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or employees who are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 will not be able to report to work for 14 days following their last negative test or last exposure to the virus.
  • Employees with symptoms of acute respiratory illness need to stay home and not come to work until free of fever, signs of a fever, or any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines, like cough suppressants
  • If you have questions about sick leave policies and use of sick leave benefit time, please contact your IDHS HR liaison or check out IDHS' administrative directives on time and attendance.
  • Employees who are experiencing upper respiratory symptoms or a fever upon arrival at work or become sick during the day, and have recently travelled to an area with widespread community transmission, should be separated from other employees and sent home immediately and advised to contact a healthcare provider.


Regarding travel:

  • Before authorizing state employee travel, consult the CDC's Traveler's Health Notices for the latest guidance. Specific information for travelers regarding countries at risk levels can be found on the CDC website.
  • Naturally, avoid state travel if you are symptomatic and notify your supervisor.
  • If you are on state travel status and become sick while traveling, notify a supervisor immediately and promptly call a healthcare provider.
  • If you have traveled to an area not identified on the CDC's travel level 2 or 3, then the employees may report to work. You do not need a negative test result before returning to work after travelling.


Please stay in touch with your colleagues, supervisors, and my office as any questions or concerns about this situation arise. We will continue to stay in communication.


Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary