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IPHCA: Community Health Centers Prepare for Potential Spread of Coronavirus

Illinois community health centers (CHCs) are responding to the rapidly evolving and expanding situation of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. Health centers are uniquely positioned to respond to public health challenges such as COVID-19 as trusted community providers, and are following the development of COVID-19 very closely.

Illinois CHCs are working with their national and local partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and their local health departments and health care coalitions to ensure accurate protocols and communication plans are in place. Health centers are educating their staff and patients about the prevention and spread of COVID-19 to help mitigate the risk of a potential spread. The first line of defense for infectious disease control is nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). NPIs will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and other flu-like viruses. NPI recommendations for personal and environmental actions include:

  • Staying home when sick
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces.

The CDC issued guidance on appropriate steps health care providers and community partners can take to prepare along with a list of FAQs. IDPH will continue to provide updates on the number of persons under investigation (PUI) within Illinois for COVID-19.

Community health centers have always regarded responding to public health challenges and natural emergencies as part of their mission and have confronted public health threats before, such as Ebola, SARS, and H1N1. CHCs are federally required to have response plans in place and ready for implementation in the event of a public health emergency.

Our focus at IPHCA is to regularly communicate with health centers and keep them up to date on important developments and recommendations from the CDC and IDPH. IPHCA is making every effort to ensure they have the latest information. It is vital to rely on information from public health experts only. There is a lot of misinformation about COVID-19, some of which is harmful. IPHCA encourages the public to only follow credible sources of information – this is especially important as we learn more about the virus and new guidance is shared.

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