As COVID-19 transmission rate remains high locally, health officials target on-site vaccination clinics

“We do anticipate, based on our cases that are coming in each day, that we will remain at the high risk level for the foreseeable future,” said DeKalb County public health administrator Lisa Gonzalez.

DeKALB – As local COVID-19 virus transmission rates remain high in DeKalb County, local health officials said this week they’re continuing to prioritize on-site vaccination clinics ahead of a possible fall surge.

DeKalb County health officials spoke to the DeKalb County Board this week, giving an update on local virus mitigation and vaccine data as the coronavirus’s delta variant continues to rip through Illinois and much of the country.

Lisa Gonzalez, public health administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department, said the state doesn’t test every single COVID-19 test sample to determine if it’s the delta variant or not.

“But of the samples they have tested statewide, they’re saying 80 to 90% of the current cases are the delta variant,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said the county is in a “high” COVID-19 transmission rate. She said the transmission rate was the main catalyst for the county health department to publicly recommend indoor, universal masking in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In late June, the state’s seven-day rolling average of reported cases was about 12,000, Gonzalez said. On July 27, that average reached more than 60,000.

“The case rate looked more like the rates that we saw previously,” Gonzalez said.

“We do anticipate, based on our cases that are coming in each day, that we will remain at the high risk level for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Gonzalez also reminded County Board members that health officials saw the county’s largest surge in cases back in the late fall of 2020.

“But as we are going into August and September of this year, we’re also starting to see another surge of cases,” Gonzalez said. “And so we’re monitoring that very carefully.”

According to Illinois Department of Public Health data, 96,114 total vaccine doses have been administered to DeKalb County residents, and 47,692 residents, or 45.79% of the county’s population of 104,143, have been fully vaccinated.

In an attempt to encourage higher local vaccination rates among those who haven’t yet received one, the county health department unveiled strategies that include more on-site clinics, to businesses and public events, to bring the vaccine directly to those who need it.

The health department in August also, through local partnerships which helped fund it, obtained a mobile health vehicle that officials intend to drive around the county, bringing the COVID-19 vaccine to residents as part of a larger effort to improve access to healthcare.

Melissa Edwards, health promotion and emergency preparedness coordinator for the county health department, said this week that, as of Thursday, the health department has administered 2,025 vaccine doses in closed clinics, or on-site clinics for businesses or agencies.

In the 102 total doses that were given at open public clinics, Edwards said the May 14 Spring Fest at DeKalb Municipal Airport yielded four vaccine doses administered. The July 17 Waterman SummerFest yielded 17, the July 20 Family Fun Fest in DeKalb yielded seven, and the June 19 Juneteenth celebration in DeKalb yielded nine.

Edwards said Grow Mobile events hosted by the DeKalb County Community Gardens this year in Hinckley, at Sycamore Federated Church, at University Village in DeKalb, and in Kingston and Malta resulted in five, two, four, one and zero vaccine doses administered, respectively.

Health officials administered 23 doses at vaccine clinic events, said Edwards, at Barb City Food Mart in DeKalb and five doses at Salem Lutheran Church Food Pantry in Sycamore.

Katie Finlon

Katie Finlon

Katie Finlon covers local government and breaking news for DeKalb County in Illinois. She has covered local government news for Shaw Media since 2018 and has had bylines in Daily Chronicle, Kendall County Record newspapers, Northwest Herald and in public radio over the years.