coronavirus illinois

29 Illinois Counties Now at ‘Warning Level' for Coronavirus, Health Officials Say

Last week, Illinois health officials said 30 counties were at a "warning level" for coronavirus spread

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Twenty-nine counties in Illinois are now at a "warning level" for coronavirus, the state's health department said Friday.

The warning means each of the counties saw increases in two or more COVID-19 "risk indicators," the health department said.

The counties now under a warning include: Boone, Bureau, Clinton, Coles, Cumberland, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Henry, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Lake, Lawrence, Madison, McLean, Monroe, Pulaski, Randolph, Rock Island, Shelby, Stark, St. Clair, Union, Wabash, Warren, Williamson, Will.

Last week, 30 counties were at a "warning level," including suburban Cook County, which has since been removed from the list.

"Public health officials are observing people not social distancing, gathering in large groups, and not using face coverings," the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement. "In some counties, local law enforcement and states’ attorneys are not enforcing important mitigation measures like social distancing and the wearing of face coverings."

"Additionally, some people refuse to participate in contact tracing and are not providing information on close contacts or answering the phone.  Individuals are also waiting to get tested believing their symptoms are allergies or some other cause," IDPH continued.

Some of the common factors for increases in cases, health officials said, were "college parties, weddings, large gatherings, bars and clubs, long-term care facilities and other congregate settings, travel to neighboring states, and spread among members of the same household who are not isolating at home." Some cases were also connected to schools and officials said "general transmission of the virus" was also increasing.

Among the metrics evaluated to determine if a county has reached a "warning level" are:

• New cases per 100,000 people. If there are 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people in the county, this triggers a warning.
• Number of deaths.  This metric indicates a warning when the 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.

Last week, new restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus took effect in two suburban counties that make up one of 11 health care regions in Illinois. Those counties include Kankakee and Will counties in Region 7, which saw a rolling positivity rate of 8% or higher for more than three consecutive days, automatically triggering the new restrictions.

Those restrictions include halting indoor dining and service at bars, with all outdoor service at bars and restaurants required to close at 11 p.m. Gatherings are also now limited to the lesser of either 25 guests or 25% of a room's overall capacity, and party buses are shut down.

Similar restrictions were put in place last month in Region 4, the Metro East region, based on its high positivity rate in testing.

Illinois health officials on Friday reported 5,368 new coronavirus cases, a severe increase in cases that the state's public health department said is due to "a slowdown in data processing" within IDPH systems, as well as 29 additional deaths.

Friday's figures brought the statewide totals to 245,371 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, according to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, with at least 8,143 deaths in all 102 counties attributed to the virus.

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