Nine Southern Illinois counties are included in this week’s Illinois Department of Public Health warning list for COVID-19 spread.
The announcement came around midday Friday and listed Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Johnson, Perry, Pulaski, Saline, Union and Williamson counties as being among the 51 counties on the list this week.
The metrics are updated weekly, from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week. Seven Southern Illinois counties were on the list last week. Alexander, Jefferson and Randolph counties were removed from the list this week. Johnson, Pulaski, Saline and Union counties were also on the list last week.
A Friday news release from IDPH states that although the reasons vary for why a county reaches the warning level, some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with university and college parties, college sports teams, large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, family gatherings, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools and cases among the community at large, especially among people in their 20s.
There are several metrics for determining if a county is experiencing stable COVID-19 activity, or if there are warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk in the county. Some of these indicators, according to the IDPH, include 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people in the county, a more than 20% increase in weekly deaths for two consecutive weeks, or a seven-day test positivity rate above 8%.
According to a news release from Southern Seven Health Department, Johnson, Pulaski and Union counties were above the threshold in two risk metrics, new cases per 100,000 and test positivity rate.
This news comes as Region 5, which includes 20 of the southernmost counties in the state, entered mitigation after its rolling seven-day positivity rate met or exceeded 8% for three consecutive days. According to IDPH on Friday, the region's rolling seven-day average positivity rate was at 8.7% for Oct. 20, the latest day for which data were available. The region must reduce its positivity rate to 6.5% for three days to be taken out of the increased mitigations.