Only one Southern Illinois county is at a warning level for COVID-19 spread this week, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Hamilton County is among 17 counties statewide to receive the designation based upon meeting two or more risk indicators. Williamson County, which had been at a warning level for several weeks, fell off the IDPH list issued Friday.
While a hopeful indication of moving in the right direction, it doesn't mean the risk has gone away for Williamson or other regional counties. Health officials continue to stress the importance of following guidelines such as social distancing, wearing a mask in public and frequent hand washing.
The other counties at a warning level are: Bond, Boone, Cass, Christian, Clinton, Crawford, DeWitt, Fayette, Grundy, Macon, Menard, Peoria, Putnam, Washington, Wayne, and Winnebago.
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 as well as college sports teams, large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools, and cases among the community at large.
Some communities lack access to convenient testing before people become symptomatic, IDPH said. Across Southern Illinois, health departments have made efforts to enhance convenient and no-cost testing options for residents. High testing positivity rates contributed to several Southern Illinois counties getting listed at a warning level in past weeks.
IDPH says it issues warning level metrics to provide local level awareness and help local leaders, businesses, health departments and the public make informed decisions.
The metrics are updated weekly, from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week.
A map and information of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website at dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics.
On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI