14 Illinois Counties at Warning Level for Coronavirus Disease

14 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
14 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (IDPH)

Springfield, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Friday reported 14 counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.

Fourteen counties are currently reported at a warning level – Bureau, Cass, Clinton, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Jefferson, Kane, LaSalle, Moultrie, Perry, Union, Will.

These counties saw ​cases or outbreaks associated with weddings, businesses, birthday parties, long-term care facilities and other congregate settings, bars, sports camps, and spread among members of the same household. 

Public health officials are seeing people in some communities are not wearing masks, or if they are, they are being worn incorrectly.  Local health departments are finding it challenging to obtain the information necessary to halt local transmission, by quickly identifying exposures from contacts of cases and businesses. 

Inconsistent messaging from local elected leaders are contributing to on-going transmission in some communities where there is little public concern for consequences or enforcement of social distancing, banning large gatherings, or quarantine/isolation orders.       

Several counties are taking swift action and implementing mitigation measures to help slow spread of the virus.  Examples include increasing the availability in testing in their community and working with local businesses to educate and spot check mask wearing and guideline adherence.   

covid-19 coronavirus
The numbers have increased in the 30 towns we survey, both cases and the number of deaths, but not as starkly as they did in the past.

IDPH uses numerous indicators when determining if a county is experiencing stable COVID-19 activity, or if there are warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk in the county.

  • 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 7-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 perform.  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.

These metrics are intended to be used for local level awareness to help local leaders, businesses, local health departments, and the public make informed decisions about personal and family gatherings, as well as what activities they choose to do.  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 https://www.dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics

County Level COVID-19 Risk Metrics

IDPH is monitoring several indicators that measure the health burden of COVID-19 in each Illinois county and capture a county’s ability to respond.  Many of these county-level indicators are similar to the Restore Illinois criteria and support that larger framework. These metrics are intended to be used for local level awareness of each county’s progress during Phase 4 and will help local leaders, businesses, local health departments, and the public make informed decisions and promote healthy behaviors.

The county level metrics are presented as weekly values, based on Sunday to Saturday of the week prior to the update. Each metric is individually compared to a target value or expected trend over two consecutive weeks to evaluate the status of COVID-19 disease burden or resource capacity for timely awareness. The measures are evaluated collectively to determine if multiple indicators are at warning levels. By applying the same metrics to each county, IDPH is using a standardized approach to monitor the state as a whole. Each county will be assessed to determine whether it is meeting or exceeding each indicator target. Counties meeting set targets will be indicated in blue, while counties that are not meeting the targets will be indicated in orange.

IDPH monitors daily many key metrics including test positivity in aggregate, by RESTORE, by EMS, by county and sub county regions to determine if and when additional mitigation actions and interventions are necessary.  If there are focal increases in test positivity, even below the 8% threshold, they are flagged and aggressively investigated, and reported to the governor’s team.