Several counties in the WLDS/WEAI listening area have entered the warning list for COVID-19 cases, placing the region at risk of stronger mitigations from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
A list of 30 counties was released by IDPH today for entering the warning list. Joining Greene and Cass Counties in recent weeks are Morgan, Pike, and Sangamon.
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 weddings,large gatherings, long-term care facilities and other congregate settings, travel to neighboring states, bars, and spread among members of the same household who are not isolating at home. Cases connected to schools are beginning to be reported. General transmission of the virus in the community is also increasing.
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. Morgan County Health Department Director Dale Bainter announced this morning that a contact tracing center will be opening in Jacksonville within the next week.
Morgan County currently has a per capita case rate of 162 per 100,000 people, a positivity rate of 8.1%, and 814 tests performed over the last week.
Pike County currently has a per capita case rate of 115 per 100,000 people, a positivity rate of 11.3%, and 142 tests performed over the last week.
Greene County currently sits at a per capita case rate of 176 per 100,000 people, a positivity rate of 12.1%, and 199 tests performed over the last week.
Cass County’s current numbers are some of the highest indicators in the state. They have the highest per capita number at 245 per 100,000 people. The Cass positivity rate is 14.9% with 202 tests performed over the last week.
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 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 level awareness to help local leaders, businesses, local health departments, and the public to make informed decisions about personal and family gatherings, as well as what activities they choose to do. The metrics are updated weekly, from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week.
A map and information of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics.