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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Northern Illinois Counties Part Of State-Wide Public Health Emergency Test

Counties across northern Illinois are part of a state-wide test this week for distributing medical supplies in case of a public health emergency.

The mass dispensing plan required by the state will measure how quickly county public health systems can distribute medicine and medical supplies during a public health emergency. State health officials say it will simulate a bioterrorism attack, but similar tactics also can be applied for large-scale disease outbreaks.

DeKalb County is one of the health departments participating in the test. Melissa Edwards – who is with the county’s health department – says the assigned hypothetical scenario was that anthrax was released at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet and at a music festival at Southern Illinois University.

“Per state protocol, if anywhere in the state of Illinois, if they have a release of anthrax, all residents of the state must be prophylaxed,” Edwards said.

DeKalb County health officials say the goal of the test is to provide medication to county residents – all 104-thousand of them – within 24 to 36 hours. Boone County will have a similar test later this week.

“This is a system that’s in place so that if you are overwhelmed at the local level, you can then reach out regionally and then statewide for resources that you need,” Ellen Genrich, who is from the Boone County Health Department, said.

State health officials say local departments are required to do a large-scale test like this once every five years. That’s in order to be eligible for a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control.

Edwards says results from the test will be available later this summer.