Coronavirus

DeKalb County at ‘high’ risk for COVID-19; indoor masks recommended for all

As of Friday, DeKalb County is considered at “high” risk for community transmission of COVID-19.

As a result, indoor mask use and updated vaccines are recommended regardless of vaccination status, according to the state health department.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s community level coronavirus transmission risk assessments, 32 counties in Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, Ogle and Lee counties, are now at high risk for community spread of the virus.

State health officials said Friday there’s been a 10% noted increase in reported coronavirus cases since Memorial Day, backtracking the downward trend recorded two weeks prior.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a well-fitting mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status, and staying up to date on vaccinations and boosters. People who test positive for COVID-19, with symptoms or exposure to someone with the virus should also wear a mask.

According to the DeKalb County Health Department, 336 COVID-19 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 199, with no new deaths reported this week.

The IDPH also recommends anyone in high-risk communities, especially those with compromised immune systems, stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. The CDC also recommends those 50 and older seek out a second booster if they haven’t already, to ensure the strongest immune protection against the evolving variants of COVID-19.

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, workplaces and schools in high-risk areas, the IDPH recommends maintaining ample ventilation indoors, considering screening people expected to gather indoors, ensuring equitable access to testing, vaccination, treatment and other provisions.

When to test, what symptoms to look for

Rapid tests work best when used by someone already experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or administered five to seven 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 also can seek out a PCR molecular test – 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 and 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 nonexhaustive 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 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 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.