SPRINGFIELD, IL – Several state agencies and the Illinois National Guard currently are assisting with the receipt and repackaging of anti-viral medications and medical supplies from the federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), which began arriving in Illinois on Wednesday. Kits containing the supplies will be shipped to local health departments and hospitals throughout the state later today, with distribution expected to continue through the weekend.
Also today, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that 17 probable cases of H1N1 flu have now been identified in Illinois. That number includes eight cases in Cook County, six in Kane County, and one each in DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties. The specimens for these probable cases have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing. Illinois expects to receive test results from the CDC within 24 to 48 hours of submission.
“Right now our goals are to identify H1N1 flu cases as quickly as possible and to stop the spread. The most important things people can do to keep themselves and others healthy are to stay home if sick, cover your cough or sneeze with your arm or tissue and properly wash your hands frequently,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director.
Supplies in the federal SNS shipments include more than 376,000 courses of the anti-viral medications Tamiflu and Relenza, which can help lessen the severity of H1N1 flu symptoms, as well as masks, gloves and surgical gowns to protect health care workers who may come in contact with infected patients. The federal supplies are being combined with 650,000 courses of anti-viral medications already stockpiled by IDPH. Kits for the hospitals and public health departments are being assembled at a central processing center, and shipments to the local sites will begin later this afternoon.
The SNS supplies shipped to Illinois this week represent 25 percent of the amount allocated to the state by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Arnold said the state can request its remaining allocation if it appears the current supplies will run short.
On Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn issued an emergency proclamation to allow for the mobilization of state assets to aid in the distribution of the SNS and any other actions needed to protect the public. The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield was activated earlier this week and currently is staffed with liaisons from several state agencies that are supporting the state’s SNS distribution operation.
“The State of Illinois has a comprehensive plan for handling and distributing the Strategic National Stockpile,” said Andrew Velasquez III, Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). “We’ve conducted numerous exercises of the plan over the past few years, which prepared us to efficiently receive, process and distribute these critical medical supplies.”
Personnel and equipment from the following agencies are involved in the processing and distribution operation: IDPH, IEMA, the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Department of Central Management Services (CMS), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS).
In addition, approximately 200 soldiers from the Illinois National Guard are assisting with the operation as part of a training exercise. The Illinois Guard soldiers are from the 232nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, headquartered in Springfield. It includes the 1344th Transportation Co. of East St. Louis, the 1544th Transportation Co. of Paris, the 3625th Maintenance Co. of North Riverside and the 3637th Maintenance Co. of Springfield. The Illinois National Guard had a training exercise on the distribution of SNS medical supplies scheduled for late May. Guard leadership decided moving that exercise up would add training value for the soldiers.
Information about the H1N1 flu outbreak is continually updated on the state’s Ready Illinois (www.Ready.Illinois.gov) website.