KANE COUNTY – The Illinois Department of Public Health added Kane County to its COVID-19 county watch list Friday, after cases have surged this week.
According to a news release from the Kane County Health Department, two of metrics which triggered the warning level for Kane County include increases in the new case rate and number of deaths.
Kane County Health Department Director Barbara Jeffers is asking residents to limit activities that could spread COVID-19.
“Yesterday, the State of Illinois announced the highest number of new cases identified on a single day in the entire pandemic,” Jeffers stated in the release.
“In Kane County, our cases and hospitalizations have continued to climb. In the past several days, our case positivity rate has risen above 8%," Jeffers stated in the release. "Unless we change our behavior as a community, we can expect to see more illness, death and economic hardship. This is avoidable and by taking precautions, together we can improve the situation for our residents and our businesses.”
Dr. Jay Liu, an infectious disease doctor at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, said that everyone needs to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands.
He said that people can't let their guards down now, even though "COVID fatigue" has set in.
"In many ways, a lot has changed since the beginning [of the pandemic], but the principles remain the same," he said.
"We need to continue to wear masks and to social distance. The virus hasn't changed, but our perspective has changed over the past few months," Liu said. "This is hard on businesses, hard on kids, hard on families – it's a lot of pressure. We want things to be different, and while there's hope and progress has been made, it's still a danger. People are still getting sick and the death toll keeps climbing."
The new case rate in Kane County reported by IDPH for the week ending Oct. 10 is 114 cases per 100,000 population, and goal is to be below 50 per 100,000, the release stated.
There were seven deaths reported by IDPH during that week, up from two the previous week and one the week before that.
The warning level for this measure occurs when there are two consecutive weeks with more than a 20% increase. Kane County is meeting stated thresholds for other measures.
Continue masks, hand washing, distancing
Jeffers announced several concerning trends. In September, residents in their 20’s represented the largest number of new cases, with 40% more cases than any other age group, the release stated.
“Even though this group may frequently have less severe illness, we have seen around the country that increases in this group lead to increases among all age categories,” Jeffers said. “Younger people exposing their older, more vulnerable family members is a serious concern."
Liu said that even though younger people don't have as many complications from the virus, the death rates are still climbing, and the public should remain wary.
"This isn't the common cold, but nor is it going to end society as we know it," he said. "The true mortality rate for COVID is not totally defined yet. We don't have an exact estimate of how many people have had it."
Jeffers explained that the health department is receiving reports that people are gathering in groups without taking proper precautions.
"We understand that people are comfortable getting together with friends and family, but unfortunately, that is leading to increased transmission and will continue to be a threat as we enter the holiday season. Kane County residents take care of each other and now is an important time for us to come together to protect ourselves and those around us,” she said.
Urging a united front
KCHD is reaching out to leaders in the public and private sector to form a united front to reverse this surge before winter and colder weather drives people indoors.
Early next week, the department will release an updated tool kit on its website, KaneHealth.com, to help businesses protect their employees and customers.
The department continues to encourage residents to contact them with concerns about businesses not following the guidelines by calling 630-208-3801 or email CovidConcerns@co.kane.il.us.
The health department investigates all complaints and the county will pursue fines against non-compliant businesses if education to the owners is insufficient, the release stated.
All residents are encouraged to wear a face covering, maintain 6 feet of social distance, wash hands frequently, avoid gatherings with people not in your household, and stay home when ill.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the KCHD website at KaneHealth.com.