Illinois starts sharing data about COVID-19 outbreaks in schools

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(WTVO)–Eight months in the pandemic, Illinois’ Public Health Department now shares the number of cases and outbreaks happening at schools.

The decision comes after news outlets like Chicago Tribune and ProPublica reported on outbreaks happening in at least 44 schools statewide, but health officials wouldn’t originally say where.

Then on Wednesday, October 21st, a IDPH spokesperson announced for the first time publicly that that the state would start sharing the number of cases and outbreaks by school.

The new data launched in the IDPH’s contract tracing tab on Friday, November 6th.

Until then, Illinois had only been releasing county-level data about coronavirus cases in people younger than 20. Now the information includes infections among children aging from 5 to 17 years old.

Currently there are 10 schools across the state experiencing outbreaks–an outbreak is considered as two or more cases.

In Region 1, there’s one school in Ogle County with an outbreak of approximately 10 to 15 staff members infected at Mary Morgan Elementary School (K-12).

The contract tracing feature also gives a breakdown of how many possible exposures there are in schools and other locations (restaurants/bars, workplaces, clinics, factories, correctional centers, community events, churches, etc.)–a feature first presented in Governor JB Pritzker’s conference on November 6th.

While there are no current school outbreaks in Winnebago County, there are 62 academic buildings listed with potential exposures. Also in Region 1: there are 13 schools with potential exposures in Dekalb County, one school in Stephenson, two in Lee and another two in Ogle County.

The contract tracing data is updated daily.

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