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Citing a surge in new COVID-19 cases, the Kendall County Health Department has issued a plea to county residents to follow recommendations intended to limit the spread of the lethal virus.

In a statement, health department officials acknowledged that "COVID fatigue is real, however, now is the time to stay strong. Continue to wear your mask, wash your hands often, and watch your distance from others. These recommendations not only protect you, but everyone around you."

As for Thanksgiving Day gatherings next Thursday, the health department is asking residents to "please consider celebrating at home with the people you live with. Gathering with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu."

Health department officials noted that as of Friday, the county has a COVID-19 test postivity rate of "20.5% and the emergency department visits for COVID-Like Illnesses (CLI) are at 19.7%, up from 12.7% last week. Our surrounding hospitals are operating at a high capacity and being squeezed by the influx of COVID cases. They are squeezed so much that most are postponing inpatient elective surgeries due to bed demand."

The statement concludes: "We know a vaccine is on the horizon, so for the upcoming months, we are pleading that you stay the course and help to slow the spread. Together, we can save lives."

The health department issued its plea the same day, Friday, Nov. 20, as it reported 273 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 among county residents, bringing the total number of confirmed cases among county residents to 5,239. Of that total, 2,612 are listed in recovery.

The health department also reported six deaths due to COVID-19 in the county over the past week, bringing the total number of county residents who have died from the virus to 36 as of Friday.