3/5/20 - IDHS Staff Message from Secretary Hou: COVID-19

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Your health, safety, and well-being are among our highest priorities at the Illinois Department of Human Services. With recent developments regarding COVID-19 (the 2019 novel Coronavirus), we want to take a moment to reinforce best-practice preventative safety measures and reference our process and procedures to keep IDHS staff healthy.

First, it is important to remember that at this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 100 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the United States. As an agency, we are closely monitoring the situation and are taking guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The immediate health risk to the public in Illinois and the United States remains low. There is currently no recommendation to disrupt normal activities at work or at home.

We encourage staff, residents and our partner organizations to be mindful of preventative measures that can be taken. The CDC offers some tips on its website that can be useful in preventing many types of illnesses, including the flu. In addition, please remember that if you are sick, you should not be at work. Anyone should be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to work after an illness. Staying home when staff are sick is one of the critical pieces of workplace illness prevention. Please do not hesitate to contact your local IDHS HR office or liaison if you have questions regarding sick leave.

Proactive Steps to Stay Healthy

The 2019 novel Coronavirus is believed to be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, much in the way influenza, and other respiratory viruses spread. Because of this, individuals are encouraged to follow these common-sense 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 cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • 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.

Additional information is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health at their Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-2019) website, the COVID-19 Hotline at 1 (800) 889-3931 or by email at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

We will continue to monitor this situation closely in the days and weeks to come. Be assured that additional communications will be forthcoming, if and when situations change. We will continue to take guidance from the IDPH and communicate with all staff, as appropriate. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the COVID-19 Hotline, your office supervisor, or my office.

Thank you,

Grace B. Hou