State: Number of counties at warning level for COVID-19 up by 10

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — In a week, the number of counties the Illinois Department of Public Health considers to be at a “warning level” for COVID-19 has jumped from 20 to 30.

IDPH monitors counties around the state to measure when — or if — the counties hit two or more predetermined COVID-19 risk indicators. Those indicators help officials measure the degree to which COVID-19 is spreading in a given county.

Thirty counties are currently reported at a warning level – Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Cook,  Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Jasper, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Madison, Monroe, Morgan, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Sangamon, Shelby, St. Clair, Union, Warren, White, Will, and Williamson.

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.

Public health officials are observing people not social distancing, gathering in large groups, and not using face coverings, according to a release from IDPH. 

In some counties, IDPH noted, local law enforcement and states’ attorneys are not enforcing important mitigation measures like social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

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 at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics.

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