Winnebago County to ‘wind down’ emergency response to COVID-19 pandemic

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County health officials said Wednesday the county will begin winding down it’s emergency response to the pandemic, as new COVID-19 infections and hospitalization rates continue to drop.

Winnebago County Health Director Dr. Sandra Martell said there were 23 new cases to report, and the area has gone 7 consecutive days with a continued decrease in COVID-19 related hospitalizations.

Martell credited the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for the decline, with 37% of county residents fully vaccinated. She added that 51% have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Martell announced that the county will scale down its emergency response procedures, shutting down the Sandy Hollow mass vaccination site, located at 1321 Sandy Hollow Road and run by the National Guard, on June 12th.

The New Zion Missionary Baptist Church mass vaccination site, at 4747 W. Riverside Blvd, will remain open through the month of June.

“There’s no reason why we can’t get [to 70% vaccinated goal],” said Dr. Martell. “It’s a matter of choice and a matter of all of us collectively moving together so we all can be on the Jefferson Street bridge and Morgan Street bridge as those fireworks go off without worrying about social distancing or wearing a mask.”

In an effort to encourage hesitant residents to get a vaccine dose, Martell said the WCHD is giving away tickets to Six Flags Great America or Hurricane Harbor for children under 18 who receive a vaccine at a community event.

She warned that hand washing and sanitation are still a priority, even if an individual is fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a face mask in public, and quarantine for 14 days if exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Businesses can require employees to get vaccine without violating federal law, Martell said, and can decide on their own mask requirements.

In a press conference in Rockford earlier today, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said the state was still on target to move to fully reopen on June 11th.

Today, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 478 new cases of COVID-19 in the state since yesterday, and 9 deaths.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total 22,842 deaths from the disease, in 102 counties in Illinois.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara announced that he has joined with 56 mayors across the country in a national challenge to increase vaccination rates.

McNamara said there was still a lot of work to be done, but the availability of vaccines were “game changers” in keeping cases low and allowing for life to return to normal.

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