Coronavirus

DeKalb County at ‘medium’ risk for COVID-19 community spread, indoor masks recommended: IDPH

As of Friday, DeKalb County is considered at “medium” risk for community transmission of COVID-19, and as a result indoor mask use and updated vaccines are recommended, according to the state health department.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s community level coronavirus transmission risk assessments, 13 counties in Illinois – the majority in northern Illinois including DeKalb, Kane, McHenry, Lake, Cook, DuPage, Kendall and Will counties – are considered medium risk.

As a result, the state health department recommends wearing a well-fitted mask indoors and maintaining ample indoor ventilation when out, especially when among those who could be immunocompromised or considered at high risk for developing a severe case of the virus.

According to the DeKalb County Health Department, 224 virus cases were reported this week; however, test results from at-home rapid tests do not get reported and are not counted in the official total. The virus death toll is at 196, with one death reported this week.

If you’re immunocompromised or at high-risk for severe infection

If you are immunocompromised or considered high risk, the IDPH recommends speaking with healthcare providers about whether you should wear masks indoors or take additional precautions. If a person lives with or has contact with a high-risk individual, the IDPH encourages indoor masking and self-testing prior to interactions.

For immunocompromised people, the IDPH recommends having a plan for regular rapid testing and speaking with healthcare providers about a plan for treatment.

Recommendations for individuals, community

It’s also recommended that those who are not yet vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19 receive one.

If a person contracts or suspects they have COVID-19, they should follow testing and isolation protocols including quarantining themselves until they confirm whether they have the virus, and isolation until they test negative.

For community or public gatherings in medium risk areas, the IDPH recommends ensuring equitable access to testing, vaccination, treatment and others.

The IDPH also recommends that virus screening testing for medium risk areas be implemented in workplaces, schools or other community settings, and maintaining ample ventilation when indoors.

When to test, what symptoms to look for

Rapid tests work best when used on someone already experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or administered 5 to 7 days after exposure to the virus. If someone is experiencing symptoms and tests negative on a rapid test, health officials have said those people are strongly encouraged to retest themselves. They can also seek out a PCR molecular test – also a nasal swab test which is sent to a lab and offered at most pharmacies in the area – for more accurate results. PCR tests can be scheduled by appointment at area pharmacies and clinics, including Walgreens, CVS and Physicians Immediate Care.

Unlike previous strains of COVID-19, the omicron variants might not present with a loss of taste or smell. Instead, many are reporting feeling cold or flu-like symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

In general, watch for: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea.

For a non-exhaustive list of testing sites, go to dph.illinois.gov/testing.

To find a vaccine available near you, visit the DeKalb County Health Department’s website at www.health.dekalbcounty.org/about/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/ or www.vaccines.gov.

The DeKalb County Health Department also provides COVID-19 vaccines to all eligible (those 5 and older) throughout the week at its building, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb. Walk-ins are accepted Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Vaccines offered include pediatric doses for children 5 to 11, first and second doses of Moderna and Pfizer, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson and boosters.