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Get the Facts: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

I want to reassure you that addressing the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is the top priority in Congress. As part of the response, my office and I have been in frequent contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Public Health, and other relevant agencies. I am also coordinating closely with local health care professionals and Chicago-area hospitals.

Out of an abundance of caution and to protect the health of my staff and visitors, my Washington, D.C. and Chicago offices will be operating remotely. My staff and I will continue to carry out their official duties and I will continue to monitor the situation very closely as it continues to develop. I can be contacted through my website at and by phone at (202) 225-4061 or (773) 267-5926.

It is important to remain calm and know that there is no reason to panic. Through my website, I hope to provide you with some basic information about the virus and its spread as well as updates on action Congress has taken to address this crisis.

Governor Pritzker has issued the following guidance to keep Illinois safe:

  • On November 17, 2020, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced a new COVID-19 mitigation plan focused on encouraging people to stay home, while permitting some industries to remain open at reduced capacities.
  • Illinois is currently in Tier 3: Resurgence Mitigation Plan. For more information on the phased re-opening and Governor Pritzker's mitigation plan, click here.
  • You can contact the Illinois Department of Public Health by emailing or call 1-800-889-3931 for health-related questions.
  • Click here to watch Governor Pritzker's daily 2:30 pm CT press briefing.

Mayor Lightfoot has issued the following guidance for Chicago:

  • The City of Chicago issued a Stay-At-Home Advisory effective November 16, 2020.
  • Chicago Public Schools have released a return to school plan for 2021. Pre-K student and cluster programs are set to return to in-person learning on January 11, 2021. Kindergarten through 8th-grade students will return to in-person learning on February 1, 2021.
  • All Chicago residents are encouraged to only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up take-out food, or receiving deliveries.
  • Residents are strongly encouraged to cancel traditional Thanksgiving activities and avoid travel.
  • The Chicago Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. Phone lines are currently staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, seven days a week. Please note that this call center can not access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider. You can email the Chicago Department of Health at or call 312-746-4835.

Fight stigma and fear by understanding the facts about COVID-19 and taking the effective precautionary steps recommended by health professionals. Support people returning from COVID-19 quarantine and help reduce the spread of rumors by letting people know that viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified type has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness, now called COVID-19. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus cases.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you are experiencing a fever, cough, and shortness of breath and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, you should contact your doctor immediately. The CDC has launched a "Coronavirus Self-Checker" tool to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. Please click here to learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19 and access the Self-Checker.

Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of the illness it causes. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Protecting yourself and others from coronavirus

Take steps to protect others and stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

For the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention please visit

For the latest information from the Chicago Department of Public Health, please visit

Last updated November 19, 2020