About COVID-19

2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The majority of patients have been hospitalized with mild illness, with some progressing to critical illness and death. This is a rapidly evolving situation and updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

Testing: The IDPH laboratory is prioritizing the below criteria for COVID-19 testing. CDPH will assist providers with submission to the IDPH laboratory. Sample receipt at IDPH is restricted to 8:00am-4:30, 7 days a week. Results are disseminated by the IDPH lab (NOT CDPH) directly to the submitter via the information provided by the ordering facility on the test requisition form. Please allow processing time due to the volume of specimens.


  • Specimens from hospitalized patients with severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., pneumonia)
  • Specimens from clusters in a congregate setting that serves more vulnerable populations such as a supportive care facility, assisted living facility, group home, homeless shelter, or correctional setting
  • Specimens from symptomatic healthcare workers or first responders.

Patients who do not meet any of the above criteria for COVID-19 testing should be managed as clinically indicated, including the decision to proceed with testing at a clinical or commercial laboratory. SARS-CoV-2 testing is now available through a limited number of commercial laboratories and availability through hospital and reference labs will continue to grow. However, CDPH strongly recommends against testing persons with mild illness who can be safely managed at home, unless a diagnosis may impact patient management. This will minimize possible exposures to healthcare workers, patients and the public and reduce the demand for personal protective equipment. A list of commercial and hospital-based laboratories may be found here.


Testing Authorization Process: Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) laboratories will continue to support testing for the situations of severe consequence and those requiring public health action. Pre-authorization of a specimen is required for testing at the IDPH laboratory and provided for by filling the Online Request Form available here: https://is.gd/COVID19IDPHProviderTestRequest. Online approved requests will receive an authorization code immediately. Completing and faxing or sending an encrypted email with the paper PUI form is NOT needed if you complete the online survey.

  • Please collect the following specimen for submission to IDPH- laboratory:
    • Nasopharyngeal Swab (Insert a swab into the nostril parallel to the palate. Leave the swab in place for a few seconds to absorb secretions). Please only send one (1) NP swab per patient.
    • If the patient is positive on the initial screening performed at the IDPH Laboratories, additional specimens may be requested, such as sputum and serum. Please do not send these samples until requested.
  • Use only synthetic fiber swabs with plastic shafts. Do not use calcium alginate swabs or swabs with wooden shafts, as they may contain substances that inactivate some viruses and inhibit PCR testing. Place swabs immediately into sterile tubes containing 2-3 ml of viral transport media.
  • A lab requisition should be completed for each specimen and submitted along with the specimen: IDPH lab requisition form
    • In the top right “outbreak #” field, write the authorization code provided.
    • Complete one test requisition form for each specimen submitted.
  • Specimen storage: Specimens ≤ 72 hours from submission should be held at 2-8°C and sent on ice packs to:

IDPH-Chicago Laboratory
Molecular Laboratory
2121 W. Taylor St.
Chicago, IL 60612


  • Clearly label patient identifiers for tracking and reporting purposes on both the specimen tube and IDPH lab requisition form.



No vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19 infection is available at this time. At present, medical care for patients with COVID-19 is supportive. For updates, see CDC's Interim Clinical Management Guidance.




COVID-19 Lab Testing Information

2019-Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Real – Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel Implementation available at IDPH Laboratory - February 7, 2020

Submission of specimens for molecular testing for COVID-19 requires prior approval from CDPH in coordination with IDPH and CDC.

See Interim Guidelines for Collecting Clinical Specimens from PUIs for additional details.

Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

NOTE: Virus isolation in cell culture and initial characterization of viral agents recovered in cultures of COVID-19 specimens are NOT recommended at this time, except at a BSL3 facility.


COVID-19 Other Info

Healthcare Facility Environmental Disinfection Guidance_013120

CDC PPE Supply Update Guidance


Infection Control: Although the transmission dynamics have yet to be determined, CDC currently recommends a cautious approach to patients under investigation for COVID-19. Such patients should be asked to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified and should be evaluated in a private room with the door closed, ideally in an airborne infection isolation room if available. Healthcare personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and eye protection (e.g., goggles or a face shield). Immediately notify your healthcare facility’s infection control personnel and local health department.


Duration of Isolation Considerations

At this time, information is lacking to definitively determine a recommended duration for keeping patients in isolation precautions. Duration of precautions should be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with CDPH. See CDC Disposition of Hospitalized Patients Guidance for updates as recommendations change. The duration a room should remain empty after a PUI vacates it depends on the Air Changes per hour (ACH) of that particular room (eg. an airborne isolation room with 12 ACH would require 35 minutes for 99.9% removal efficiency of airborne contaminants (Table 1 and Table 2. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5417a1.htm).


Aerosol Generating Procedures

Increased vigilance should be used with performance of aerosol generating procedures which have been associated with increased risk of transmission of SARS and MERS including: collection of NP/OP samples, tracheal intubation, non-invasive ventilation, tracheotomy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, manual ventilation before intubation, and bronchoscopy. Unprotected healthcare personnel should not be allowed in a room where an aerosol-generating procedure has been conducted until sufficient time has elapsed to remove potentially infectious particles.





Both individual lab-confirmed cases and clusters are reportable conditions.

Providers must report all positive cases into INEDSS.

If you are an outpatient facility and do not have access to INEDSS or you need to report a cluster of 2 or more cases (at least one of which is lab-confirmed) in a congregate setting (such as a long-term care facility, childcare setting, correctional facility, etc), please complete the COVID-19 Online Case Report Form (a confidential online survey powered by IDPH REDCap).

***Concerning calls to 311 for COVID-19, 311 calls should be reserved for discussion of management of confirmed COVID-19 cases only or urgent matters related to disposition of PUIs or cases. For these issues, call 311 during business hours / after hours / weekends / holidays and ask to speak with the medical director on call (312-744-5000 if outside the City of Chicago).

Checklists for Healthcare

In the event of a PUI for COVID-19, healthcare providers should immediately notify infection control personnel at their healthcare facility.

Checklist for Hospitals

Checklist for Outpatient Offices

Hospital Preparedness Checklist (February 14, 2020)

HAN Registration Request

Access Request Form

Important! Please read the instructions very carefully.
Note: Fields with asterisks * are required fields that you must fill out to complete the request.

FAQs for on specimen submission

Frequently asked questions on specimen submission:

Q: I am having trouble obtaining viral transport media/universal transport media (VTM/UTM) to collect and transport patient samples. Are there alternatives that I can use?

A: While VTM/UTM remains the preferred transport media, FDA believes that the following alternative transport media could be used to collect and transport patient samples for molecular RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 assays in a manner that will stabilize the RNA without meaningful degradation:

  • Liquid Amies-based transport media.
    • Supplies:
      • E-Swab by Copan (Catalogue # 481C and 482C) with regular or flex minitip applicator
      • Opti-Swab by Puritan (Catalogue # LA-117), swab included in kit (Catalog#3317-H).
    • Storage: Up to 72 hours at 4, or frozen for longer storage.

If the above are not available, FDA believes that the following could be used to collect and transport samples for molecular RT-PCR sARS-CoV-2 assays:

  • Dry swab in saline
    • Supplies:
      • Puritan: 25-3317-H, 25-3316-U, 25-3316-H, 25-3317-U, 25-3318-U, 25-3318-H, 25-3319-H, 25-3320-U, 25-3320-U EMB 100MM, 25-3320-U EMB 80MM, 25-3320-H and 25-3320-H EMB 80MM
      • Copan: 501CS01, 503CS01, 516CS01, 518CS01 and 534CS01
    • Storage: Up to 72 hours at 4, or frozen for longer storage.


Please be aware that the CDC does not recommend use of calcium alginate swabs or swabs with wooden shafts, as they may contain substances that inactivate some viruses and inhibit PCR testing.

FDA is continuing to evaluate other options for specimen collection supplies, and we will update this list accordingly as this information becomes available.

nCoV Resource Links

NEW Resource for Discharge of High-Risk COVID-19 Persons Under Investigation (PUI) or Confirmed Cases issued March 22, 2020

CDPH COVID-19 PPE Conservation Guidance for Hospitals issued March 19, 2020

CDPH Order: Duties of Hospitals and Other Congregate Facilities issued March 19, 2020

IDPH Respirator Reuse Guidance issued March 19, 2020

URGENT Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Hospitals issued March 18, 2020

Tips for Outpatient Healthcare Facilities During COVID-19 Community Transmission issued March 16, 2020

COVID-19: Testing Recommendations and Public Health Testing Updates issued March 16, 2020

COVID-19: Interim Infection Control Guidance & Lab Testing issued March 12, 2020

Clarifying PUI Testing for COVID-19, issued March 5, 2020

COVID-19 Sample Submission to IDPH, issued March 4, 2020

Novel Coronavirus Updates: Presumptive Positive Cook County Case, Launch of Sentinel Surveillance, Continued Hospital Preparations, issued March 2, 2020

Flow chart to Idenitfy and Assess 2019 Novel Coronavirus, issued Feb 1, 2020

Feb 1, 2020 CDC Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of 2019-nCoV

Healthcare Facility Environmental Disinfection Guidance_013120

Jan 30, 2020 HAN #4: 1st Case of Human-to-Human Transmission of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Identified in Chicago

Jan 24, 2020 HAN #3: Confirmed Case of Novel Coronovirus (2019-nCoV) in Chicago Resident

Jan 21, 2020 HAN #2: Chicago O’Hare international airport to be added as screening site 2019-nCoV

Jan 17, 2020 CDC HAN Advisory #1 - Chicago HAN Document

Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, China

CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan China Situation Summary

CDC Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals and criteria for evaluation of patients under investigation 2019 novel coronavirus:

CDC Interim Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for patients under investigation for 2019 novel coronavirus

WHO infection prevention and control during health care when novel coronavirus (nCoV) is suspected

CDC Information for Laboratories for working with specimens from patients under investigation for human infections with 2019 novel coronavirus

IDSA 2019-nCoV Reference Library

CDC Travel Guidance

COVID-19 Resources for Opioid Treatment Programs

COVID-19 Resources for Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs):