Five weeks after being dropped from the IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) list of state counties at the warning level, and four weeks after additional mitigations were dropped for Illinois’ Region 7 (Will and Kankakee Counties), Will County again finds itself listed as one of Illinois’ “warning level” counties.
WCHD (Will County Health Department) Executive Director Sue Olenek says the top priority right now is for Will County residents to follow all COVID-19 precautions, with the immediate goal being no return of additional restrictions
“We all know what happened the last time we went orange,” Olenek said. “We ended up with restrictions, and I don’t think anyone wants to go back to that. We must remember to follow the three Ws: Wash (our hands frequently), Watch (our social distancing), and Wear (your masks properly over the nose and mouth). Also, avoid the 3 Cs: Closed spaces, close contacts, and crowded places. When we relent on these principles, we see a surge in positive cases!”
Counties appear on the IDPH Warning Level list when they have hit two of a variety of factors showing signs of increased Coronavirus activity. One is a rate of new COVID-19 cases that is over 50 per 100,000 residents. For Will County, the week of October 4-10 showed 133 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents (the previous week’s level was 87). The second factor Will County hit was a substantial increase in the amount of COVID-19 deaths. Will County had 13 deaths for the week of October 4-10, after a very slow period of COVID-19 deaths in late September. For numbers concerning Region 7, go to this IDPH link: https://www.dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics?regionID=7.
Other factors include positivity rate (Will County’s was 6.2% Oct 4-10 and 5.5% the week before, the warning level is 8%), hospital admissions with CLI (Coronavirus Like Illnesses), and emergency room visits with CLI.
Counties designated as “warning levels” are asked to implement measures for increased testing and contact tracing. WCHD continues to be active in doing both. Forty contact tracers, with more planned to be hired, are now working remotely to contact and collect information from those who have tested positive, and then contact residents who may have been exposed by someone who tested positive. WCHD asks that residents be cooperative and forthcoming with contact tracers, as the information you provide could save yours or someone else’s life. When you are called by a contact tracer, your caller ID should read “COVID CONTACT” with the phone number 312-777-1999.
For testing, the WCCHC (Will County Community Health Center) Mobile Medical Unit continues to offer walk-in testing for the public at a variety of locations. For the latest schedule, go to https://willcountyhealth.org/mobile-medical-van-coronavirus-testing-dates-congregate-settings-and-public/. In addition, the State Mobile Unit has been very active offering testing in Will County as well. For the latest news about State Medical Unit stops, as well as COVID-19 information, go to willcountyhealth.org.
In addition, for any questions about Coronavirus or concerns that residents feel need to be reported, you are asked to call the WCHD COVID-19 Hotline at 815-740-8977.
The IDPH list of Illinois counties on at the Warning/Orange level for Coronavirus activity is released every Friday.