County Health Departments are getting a hand from the state in COVID case processing starting next week.
With the continuing surge of new cases happening across the country just ahead of the holidays, the Illinois Department of Public Health is getting ready to roll out a new way of collecting and disseminating COVID data to the public.
Morgan County Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter says Morgan County has seen the same rapid uptick in positive cases as other areas have seen since after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Bainter says now the State of Illinois is preparing to take over handling new cases and contact tracing data from the local health departments.
“The state has used a process called the Surge Center, which is where contact tracing has rolled over to during a surge when the local health department can’t handle it. So any case that hasn’t been handled within twenty-four hours by the local health department gets pushed into the Surge Center.
Starting next week on the 28th, IDPH is going to change the process so that the Surge Center will receive all positives instead of the local health department, and then that Surge Center will prioritize the cases based on, is the individual sixty-five years of age or above, is it a congregate setting?
So they are going to assess that risk and prioritize and then assign the most at-risk cases back to the local health department. But the Surge Center will handle the majority of cases from that time moving forward.”
Bainter says currently all positive case notifications come to the county health department first via a database from the state and then the county works those cases internally. He says that is all about to change starting next week.
“Now that the cases will go through the Surge Center and IDPH first, they will then decontaminate those out to the local health department, so we are hoping to not see a delay in reporting. Hopefully, this will expedite the process. We do have some concerns, we’ve been doing this for quite a while now, and anytime there is a change we have some anxiety on how it is going to work.”
Data from the Surge Center process is starting to populate on the IDPH website, although many portions of the total reporting portal have yet to be fully implemented at this time.
According to data on the Variant Proportions report, as of Saturday, 98.5% of all cases of COVID in Illinois continues to be the Delta variant, with 1.41% the new Omicron. According to the data, the original Alpha variant is still circulating in the general public, however of the total cases as of December 18th, Alpha only accounts for .08%.
Bainter says testing is still available through the Morgan County Health Department through the continued partnership with Jacksonville Memorial Hospital’s Drive Through Testing Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He says private testing has also come to the area via pharmacies and stand-alone companies all providing the free tests.
To find a COVID-19 testing site near you, log on to coronavirus.illinois.gov/testing-sites
or contact your local healthcare provider.