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Kane, DuPage counties warn of increase in COVID-19 rates, caution they could reinstate restrictions
Wednesday, August 05, 2020 Chicago Tribune by SARAH FREISHTAT
Kane and DuPage county officials are warning residents about “concerning increases” in COVID-19 activity and said they could take action to limit the spread of the virus, including reinstating limits on some business and social activities.
Officials from the two counties said Wednesday they are meeting most of the COVID-19 targets the state has set. However, both counties are at what the state considers a warning level for the number of new cases per 100,000 people — DuPage is reporting 73 new cases per 100,000 residents and Kane is reporting 66, while the state’s target is 50 — and health department officials are concerned about recent upticks in COVID-19 metrics, they said in a statement.
They are “proactively” evaluating future action, which could include restricting the size of social gatherings, reducing capacity at businesses, or scaling back operations such as indoor dining, bars, salons and personal care services, which pose a higher risk of transmission, they said.
“Wear a face mask, watch your distance and wash your hands frequently,” DuPage County Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala said. “These actions help protect your neighbors, friends and community.”
That includes the rate at which tests come back positive. Kane, like many other suburban counties, is seeing higher positivity rates than densely-populated Cook County and Chicago, though DuPage’s positivity rate remains lower. The two counties said their positivity rates are ticking up.
“Working with our colleagues in DuPage County, we will take the prescribed actions by (the Illinois Department of Public Health) to maintain the public’s health, which is our mutual and top priority,” Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said in a statement. “This pandemic is far from over and we must maintain our vigilance and self discipline, following safety protocols to keep our residents safe from infection.”
Still, the highest positivity rate among suburban counties is in Kendall County, where it stands at 6.8%, state data show.
Kendall County Health Department Executive Director RaeAnn VanGundy said in an email the high rate could be due to an increase in testing, and could also possibly be tied to complacency and risky behavior among residents. The department is focusing on contact tracing and increasing community education. Officials are also stressing the importance of wearing masks, maintaining distance and washing hands, she said.
In Kane County, the test positivity rate is 5.8%, and DuPage’s rate is 4%, according to state data. Will County’s is 5.9%, McHenry County’s is 5.4%, Lake County’s is 5%.
Suburban Cook County’s positivity rate is 5.4%, and the city of Chicago’s is 4.5%.
Kane and DuPage counties, which make up one region in the state’s reopening plan, are working to address upticks in the metrics before the state takes formal action, officials said.
“We need everyone to work together to help us stop the spread of the virus,” DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said. “Both DuPage and Kane Counties were successful in reducing case counts through adherence to public health guidance in the spring and early summer. However, as these case counts creep up, we need to remind the public that their actions will impact the decisions health leaders make to protect our communities. We each play an important role in this fight.”
Some health officials have said large gatherings of young people failing to take the proper precautions have sparked outbreaks. In Kane County, residents in the 20 to 29 age range account for the highest number of COVID-19 cases, county data show. DuPage County has previously said children and young adults are accounting for an increasing percentage of COVID-19 cases there.
As Kane and DuPage counties warned of increasing COVID-19 measures, Mary Lou Mastro, the CEO of Edward-Elmhurst Health System, which runs Edward Hospital in Naperville, said Wednesday the system is beginning to see another uptick in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
Mastro urged residents to wear a mask, wash hands and avoid touching faces, and remain at least six feet apart from one another.
“Wear a mask and protect yourself and those around you,” she wrote in a statement on the health system website. “And take a stand, remind others of the importance of wearing a mask. I believe it is our civic responsibility and the honorable thing to do.”