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2 Southern Illinois counties on IDPH warning list for COVID-19 spread this week
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2 Southern Illinois counties on IDPH warning list for COVID-19 spread this week

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Two Southern Illinois counties are among the 24 counties in Illinois at a warning level for COVID-19, according to a Friday news release from Illinois Department of Public Health. A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 disease increase.

Williamson and Union counties in our region join Bond, Bureau, Cass, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeWitt, Edwards, Effingham, Greene, Jasper, Jo Daviess, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Rock Island, St. Clair, Shelby, Washington, Wayne and Wabash counties on this week’s list.

Williamson County has been on the warning list for several consecutive weeks.

Although the reasons for counties reaching a warning level vary, some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with university and college parties and college sports teams, large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, manufacturing plants, schools, and cases among the community at large, according to the IDPH news release. General transmission of the virus in the community also is increasing.

According to a news release from Southern Seven Health Department, Union County showed an increase in two risk metrics from Sept. 6 through 12: New cases per 100,000 and test positivity percentage.

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The news release states the rate of new cases per 100,000 people is used to compare the number of cases in large and small counties. The rate is calculated by dividing the county case count for seven days by county population by 100,000. This describes the potential number of people who are currently ill and may be infectious in the county. There were 148 potential new cases (based on 25 positive cases) per 100,000 reported in Union County, up from the previous week of 131 new potential cases (based on 22 positive cases). A warning indicates the new case rate is greater than 50 cases per 100,000 people.

The test positivity rate for Union County was 8.2% out of 305 tests, up from 6.4% out of 405 tests the previous week, according to the Southern Seven release. 

“Union County has seen significant swings in positive cases over the past two months that can be attributed to large social gatherings, July 4th and Labor Day events,” Shawnna Rhine, Southern Seven community outreach coordinator, said the news release. “We all want to return to our normal activities, but we must do so safely. Please wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and stay home when you’re sick. Those simple steps are your best prevention.”

IDPH uses numerous indicators when determining if a county is experiencing stable or increasing COVID-19 activity. The metrics are updated weekly and include the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week.

A county is considered at the warning level when at least two of the following metrics are met:

  • More than 50 new cases per 100,000 people;
  • Number of deaths increases more than 20% for two consecutive weeks;
  • Weekly test positivity rates rise above 8%;
  • Fewer than 20% of intensive care units beds are available in the region;
  • Weekly COVID-19-like-illness visits to the emergency department increase more than 20% for two consecutive weeks;
  • Weekly number of hospital admissions for COVID-19-like-illness increases by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks;
  • If more testing is needed in the county; and
  • Clusters of COVID-19 cases or outbreaks.

These metrics are intended to be used for local level awareness to help local leaders, businesses, health departments and the public make informed decisions about personal and family gatherings and activities, IDPH says.

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