Winnebago County health officials: 225 new cases in 3 days as county hits ‘critical warning level’

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell said the county’s seven day rolling positivity rate is currently 9%, which puts it in critical warning level according to Illinois metrics.

In the last 3 days, Martell said there have been 225 positive cases, with a case rate of close to 200 infections per 100,000 people.

Illinois Region 1, which includes Winnebago, Boone, DeKalb, Ogle, Lee, Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Carroll and Whiteside counties, hit a threshold Monday that could bring further coronavirus restrictions.

If the positivity rate remains at 8% or higher for two or more days, Gov. JB Pritzker has said additional mitigation efforts will be applied to the region.

The IDPH today reported 1,709 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 13 additional confirmed deaths.

Winnebago County has been in the critical zone since August 31st, according to Martell.

She said there is not one big spreader or big box store that is causing the outbreaks, saying the virus is everywhere. Bars and restaurants are high risk, Martell said, because that is where people are vocal, “for example, drinking and yelling at the TV while watching a sports game.”

Dr. Martell said metrics for the state regions and schools differ, saying that what the WCHD is looking for in schools is the transmission within the school setting, and how many individuals in a classroom that have been positive.

She said that positive cases in schools could result in assigned seating in classrooms and buses, and examining recess hours and lunch settings. Lunch period, she said, is considered the most time students have with each other during the school day, without face coverings.

“We are dependent on voluntary compliance. When I say that,  I don’t want to issue an order. But if that’s what needs to be happen to keep people safe, that is what I will do.” Dr. Martell said.

Martell also said that three facilities who were issued non-compliance notices last week, including CJ’s Custom House, Toni’s of Winnebago, and Berean Baptist School, are working to meet compliance standards for masks. Choice Furniture, Martell said, has not submitted a plan to the health department and is due for a follow up inspection this week.

She said the heath department has received over 20 complaints of businesses who are not compliant with the face mask mandate.

Local entrepreneur, Janene Stephenson, who said she opened her small event planning business, Janene’s Event Design Studio.Social Cafe, just two weeks before COVID-19 hit, begged residents to wear masks. “We don’t want to shut down again, because I don’t think many of us can survive another shutdown. Ask your kids to wear masks, too. Please follow the orders of the health department.”

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