Winnebago County health officials warn of rising positivity rate and more restrictions

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Over the weekend, Winnebago County reported almost 80 new cases of COVID-19. There were no new deaths and the recovery rate is staying stable, however, one statistic has health officials concerned: the positivity rate.

Winnebago County has its highest rate since the county started keeping track.

“Please be vigilant. We’re in this critical point, we have a 6.8% positivity rate,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

With nearly 8,000 COVID-19 cases being recorded in Winnebago County since the pandemic began, Health Director Dr. Sandra Martell says she is concerned as the county approaches a 7% positivity rate.

“We are trying to keep below that 7%,” Dr. Martell explained. “My concern is as a community we have got to manage the outside environments for the schools to remain inside, in-person.”

“It’s not just about students inside the school, if you’re an employer in our community you need your workforce and so we need to be keeping people as safe as possible and really working toward that,” she added. “We need to double down on our prevention efforts.”

If the positivity rate continues to rise, further restrictions could be put in place–such as limiting capacity in businesses and pushing dining to outside only. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says staying healthy should be the community’s first priority.

“We don’t want to take a step back because of the economy, we don’t want to take a step back because of our children’s education. Our first reason why we wouldn’t want to take a step back is because of people’s health,” Mayor McNamara said.

Wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if you don’t feel well can all play a part in keeping the positivity rate low.

“Folks, we need to step it up. We need to step it up if we are serious about this,” Dr. Martell warned. “If you want to keep our kids in an in-person learning environment and the students and the staff and the teachers, everyone in their as safe as possible, similar to the work environment, we need to be intentional on how we’re spending our time outside of those environments.”

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