In the past 20 days, La Salle County has had 42.4% of its total confirmed COVID-19 cases.
That uptick has led the state to name La Salle County, one of four in Illinois, on its COVID-19 warning list issued Friday.
As of Friday, the county health department has confirmed 389 total cases. Since July 5, the health department had reported 165 confirmed cases.
In addition, the county-level risk metrics provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health show emergency room visits for COVID-like illness have more than doubled over the last few weeks.
The number of cases per 100,000 has increased from 14 per 100,000 July 5 through 11 to 63 July 12 through 18 — with a 4.5% rate of tests coming back positive.
"It is important our area understand how easily COVID-19 is actively spreading," the health department said. "La Salle County is experiencing community spread of the virus, meaning that some people testing positive for COVID-19 are not able to pinpoint when or where they may have become infected. This is happening all over the county, not one particular area or town."
In addition, there have been small clusters of cases among families and household contacts. Social and family gatherings, household sharing, and community spread have all contributed to the uptick in confirmed cases.
The high percentage of La Salle County cases being identified in those 29 years and younger.
La Salle County Health Department Administrator Julie Kerestes said "the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and it continues to be a serious public health threat. Young people can easily become infected with COVID-19, not experience symptoms and then pass the virus to others more at risk. Those who choose not to wear a mask or disregard the importance of social distancing are putting their parents, grandparents, co-workers, and community at risk.”
The warning status indicates there are warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk in the county. These metrics are intended to be used for local level awareness for 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. Individuals, families, and community groups can use these metrics to help inform their choices about personal and family gatherings, as well as what activities they choose to do.
The Health Department is encouraging residents to do their part and continue to recognize the role they play in helping La Salle County slow the spread of COVID-19. It is necessary for all county residents to wash their hands, watch their distance (staying at least 6 feet away from other people), and wear a face covering. Face coverings are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and are one of the best prevention tools available to the public at this time, the health department said.
In addition to continuing to provide daily COVID-19 updates, the Health Department will begin sharing a weekly coalition bulletin with the public.
Since March, the La Salle County Health Department has been preparing a weekly bulletin that has been distributed to community healthcare partners and coalition members. The bulletin was intended to help partners stay apprised of the ever-changing public health and emergency preparedness issues in the area related to COVID-19.
Beginning Friday, July 24, the health department will share this bulletin on its website and social media pages every Friday. If someone would like to receive the bulletin directly, they may sign up to have the bulletin sent to their email. Go to https://lasallecounty.org/lasalle-county-health-department-2/ or social media pages to access to link to be added to the distribution list.
Call the health department at 815-433-3366 or visit the Health Department's website at www.lasallecounty.org for further information on COVID-19.