Winnebago County officials stress face masks in drive-thru, in-person dining

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County officials stressed the importance of wearing face masks in dining situations, including drive-thru settings, after Gov. JB Pritzker announced new guidance for Illinois bars and restaurants on Tuesday.

Winnebago County added 17 new cases on Tuesday, for a total of 4,087 cases of coronavirus so far, with a 96% recovery rate.

She says the county is expected to hit a higher state warning level, based on the number of new cases we saw for the week of August 22nd.

The county’s testing positivity rate has gone up slightly, to 3.9%, prompting Dr. Sandra Martell, director of the Winnebago County Public Health Department to warn, “We can’t give up in the last quarter of this marathon.”

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Pritzker announced new mitigation for Will and Kankakee counties, after the COVID-19 positivity rate in the region passed state limits for a third consecutive day Monday.

The state has set that limit at 8%.

Pritzker also instituted a new statewide rule that restaurant and bar customers must wear face masks when interacting with staff, and vice versa.

Martell said residents should wear a mask even when in a drive-thru.

She also urged all school aged children to get their required vaccinations regardless if their parents have elected for remote or in-person learning this year.

“Since it’s become more difficult, changes are made so pharmacists can give shots to kids,” Martell said.

Pharmacists in all 50 states are now allowed to give childhood vaccinations under a new directive aimed at preventing future outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases.

Alex Azar, the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, took the step using emergency powers he has during the U.S. coronavirus epidemic, which was declared a public health emergency.

The move is designed to help prevent vaccination rates from falling during the pandemic, Azar said.

Martell also advised parents to allow children to pick out their own face masks, and said they should increase the number of hours they spend wearing the mask each day.

“We want this to be a good year,” Martell said, while warning of the upcoming influenza season.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted some travel restrictions, Dr. Martell asked people to be reasonable and intentional when traveling, and be prepared to quarantine if they need.

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