‘This has to be a wakeup call’; Rockford mayor warns as COVID-19 cases on the rise

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — At a Wednesday press conference, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara warned new cases and hospitalizations from the coronavirus disease in the area are on the rise, even as more people are becoming vaccinated.

“The pandemic’s not over… Right now, our positivity rate’s increasing, our hospitalizations are increasing. Our case counts are increasing. The severity of cases in our hospitals are increasing. The positivity rate has nearly tripled in 35 days,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “This has to be a wakeup call.”

Region 1’s testing positivity rate is currently at 6.2%, up from 2.5% on March 6th.

Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell added, “As we get more optimistic, we become less careful. We must be cautious during this time.”

Statewide, new hospital admissions and daily cases of COVID-19 have been increasing, preventing Illinois’ entry into the “Bridge Phase” of the Restore Illinois reopening plan.

About 20% of the county has now been vaccinated against the disease, according to the WCHD.

The Illinois Department of Public Health today reported 2,931 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 13 additional deaths.

Martell and McNamara, along with Rockford Mass Transit District, announced the start of the “Vax Up 815” promotional campaign, designed to encourage at-risk Rockford residents to register for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Martell said education, housing, healthcare access, transportation are some of the systemic issues that place People of Color at a heightened risk for the disease.

The WCHD is hosting in-person vaccination registrations every Friday in April, from 4-7 p.m., at different locations in the community. This Friday, an event will be held at Washington Park Community Center, 3617 Delaware Street.

RMTD will make all routes were accessible to all community vaccine sites, according to RMTD Executive Director Michael Stubbe.

Residents can also register for a vaccine online through the Winnebago County Health Department’s vaccine registration website.

“Vaccinations are now open to anyone 18-years-of-age or older,” said Martell. “We’ve seen our cases increasing and the positivity rate continues to rise. Now is the time. Don’t wait to vaccinate.”

Martell also reminded women to get screened for breast cancer and pregnant women to keep their doctor appointments as she marked National Public Health Week, which runs April 5-11th.

Martell said that, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the health department is continuing to further outreach with vaping education; substance abuse prevention; training on the opioid medication, Narcan; and teen pregnancy prevention.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, pop-up food pantries have been held throughout the city and the Stateline-area.

She gave credit to numerous local organizations who work behind the scenes to maintain those community services, including the Emergency Operation Center, Rockford Fire Department, Loves Park City Clerk, Rockford Public School District 205, The Salvation Army, and the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

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