Seven Southern Illinois counties are on Illinois Department of Public Health's list of counties considered to be at a warning level for COVID-19.
A total of 26 counties are on the list, which is updated weekly on Fridays. In Southern Illinois, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Pulaski, Saline and Union counties are listed. The seven counties reflect an increase from last week, when three counties — Massac, Pulaski and Saline — were considered at warning level.
The metrics reflect data from the Sunday to Saturday of the prior week.
According to a news release from Southern Seven Health Department, Massac and Pulaski counties both saw a decrease in the number of new cases and test positivity rate last week, but the drops weren't enough to remove the warning designation. The test positivity rate in Massac County was 9.4% out of 128 tests, down from 9.9% out of 151 the week before. The test positivity rate in Pulaski County was 13.2% out of 92 tests, down from 17.6% out of 108 tests the previous week.
The test positivity rate in Johnson County was 12.4% out of 193 tests, up from 3.3% out of 215 tests the previous week. The test positivity rate in Union County was 9.1% out of 362 tests, up from 4.9% out of 347 tests the previous week.
Reasons for counties reaching a warning level vary, IDPH said in a news release, but some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, university and college parties, college sports teams, family gatherings, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools, and cases among the community at large, especially people in their 20s.
According to IDPH, public health officials are observing businesses "blatantly" disregarding mitigation measures. IDPH also said officials have noted people not social distancing, gathering in large groups, and not using face coverings.
A county is considered at the warning level when at least two of the following metrics triggers a warning, according to the news release:
- New cases per 100,000 people. If there are more than 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the county, this triggers a warning.
- Number of deaths. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly number of deaths increases more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
- Weekly test positivity. This metric indicates a warning when the seven-day test positivity rate rises above 8%.
- ICU availability. If there are fewer than 20% of intensive care units available in the region, this triggers a warning.
- Weekly emergency department visits. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly percent of COVID-19-like-illness emergency department visits increase by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
- Weekly hospital admissions. A warning is triggered when the weekly number of hospital admissions for COVID-19-like-illness increases by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
- Tests performed. This metric is used to provide context and indicate if more testing is needed in the county.
- Clusters. This metric looks at the percent of COVID-19 cases associated with clusters or outbreaks and is used to understand large increase in cases.
IDPH said the metrics are intended to be used to help local leaders, businesses, health departments and the public make informed decisions about personal and family gatherings, as well as what activities they choose to do.
A map and information of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website at dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics.
COVID-19 numbers in Southern Illinois
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