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SPRINGFIELD–Jo Daviess County has officially been placed at a warning level from the state of Illinois due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported on Friday, July 31, that 11 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for COVID. A county enters a warning level when it experiences an increase in two or more COVID-19 risk indicators from the state’s COVID-19 Resurgence Mitigation plan.
Eleven counties are currently at a warning level– Cass, Gallatin, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, and White.
These counties saw outbreaks associated with business operations and activities posing higher risk for disease spread, including school graduation ceremonies, a rise in cases among late teens and 20s, parties and social gatherings, people going to bars, long-term care outbreaks, clusters of cases associated with restaurants and churches, and big sports events including soccer, golf, and softball tournaments.
Residents of many communities are not wearing face coverings that have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Public health officials are finding that most contacts to cases are testing positive as well.
“You have to practice like things will be closed again to get this under control. Wear a mask. Practice social distance,” said Dr. Ralph Losey, chief medical officer at Midwest Medical Center. “Socialize outside, don’t crowd in shops, wear a mask in every single store, even if you don’t have to.”
“Folks are not wearing masks, folks are still gathering together, we have all seen it,” said Scott Toot, Jo Daviess County Board chairman. “Ordinarily that would be alright, but places like Dubuque are now a hot spot, I don’t think that helps. I think the reason we got put on it is our geographic location and our behavior. I do not want to see us going into another shutdown, people need to cooperate. We have people in this county not social distancing and not wearing masks. We need to work together to get through this. I think the vast majority of people in Jo Daviess County are doing the right thing.”
Several counties are taking swift action and implementing mitigation measures to help slow the spread of the virus. Toot said the county is working on an ordinance about quarantine, Toot is asking the board of health, at its Wednesday, Aug. 5, to approve the ordinance. The ordinance could carry a $750 per day fine.
IDPH uses numerous indicators when determining if a county is experiencing stable COVID-19 activity, or if there are warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk in the county. These indicators are:
•New cases per 100,000 people. If there are more than 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the county, this triggers a warning.
•Number of deaths. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly number of deaths increases more than 20-percent for two consecutive weeks.
•Weekly test positivity. This metric indicates a warning when the seven-day test positivity rate rises above 8%.
•ICU availability. If there are fewer than 20% of intensive care units available in the region, this triggers a warning.
•Weekly emergency department visits. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly percent of COVID-19-like-illness emergency department visits increase by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
•Weekly hospital admissions. A warning is triggered when the weekly number of hospital admissions for COVID-19-like-illness increases by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
•Tests performed. This metric is used to provide context and indicate if more testing is needed in the county.
•Clusters. This metric looks at the percent of COVID-19 cases associated with clusters or outbreaks and is used to understand large increase in cases.
These metrics are intended to be used for local awareness to help leaders, businesses, health departments and the public make informed decisions about personal and family gatherings, as well as what activities they choose to do. The metrics are updated weekly, with data from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week. A map of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website at dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics.
“The virus situation is sad. It is unusual. It’s not what we are comfortable with,” said Losey. “However, having a family member in the ICU isn’t comfortable either. If you have to be around others, wear a mask.”