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Boone, Winnebago among 34 counties at COVID-19 warning level

‘Public health officials are observing businesses blatantly disregarding mitigation measures.’
The CDC says COVID-19 will be a Top 10 leading cause of death for 2020. Data from 2018, the most recent year available, indicates the virus will rank third behind heart disease and cancer.
The CDC says COVID-19 will be a Top 10 leading cause of death for 2020. Data from 2018, the most recent year available, indicates the virus will rank third behind heart disease and cancer.(Source: CDC via CNN)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 2:00 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - There are now 34 counties considered to be at warning level for COVID-19. A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.

Officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health say 34 counties are currently reported at a warning level — Adams, Alexander, Boone, Cass, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, DeKalb, DeWitt, Jasper, Jefferson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Lee, Macon, McDonough, McHenry Mercer, Monroe, Pike, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Stephenson, Union, Vermilion, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Whiteside, Will and Winnebago.

Although the reasons for counties reaching a warning level varies, some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with university and college parties as well as college sports teams, large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, family gatherings, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools, and cases among the community at large, especially people in their 20′s, according to the IDPH.

“Public health officials are observing businesses blatantly disregarding mitigation measures, people not social distancing, gathering in large groups, and not using face coverings. Mayors, local law enforcement, state’s attorneys, and other community leaders can be influential in ensuring citizens and businesses follow best practices,” the IDPH said.

Several counties are taking swift action and implementing mitigation measures to help slow spread of the virus, including increasing testing opportunities, working with schools, meeting with local leaders, and educating businesses and large venues about the importance of mitigation measures, according to the IDPH.

After learning of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 and visited a bar, the Whiteside County Health Department worked with the business and quickly alerted the community of potential exposures, helping limit spread of the virus.  Additionally, WCHD provides pre-event consultations for establishments planning events that may draw larger crowds.  Pre-event consultations include, educating businesses about the importance of masking and social distancing, as well as reviewing emergency rules, and guidance, and other ways to keep attendees and the community safe.

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. A county is considered at the warning level when at least two of the following metrics triggers a warning.

• 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% for two consecutive weeks.

• Weekly test positivity. This metric indicates a warning when the 7-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 perform. 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.

A map and information of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website.

Copyright 2020 WIFR. All rights reserved.

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