WAUKEGAN -- he Lake County Health Department is urging the public to take precautions to slow the resurgence of COVID-19. The majority of cases nationwide have been in unvaccinated individuals.
“The entire State of Illinois is seeing a steady increase in cases and we need to be careful,” Mark Pfister, executive director at the Lake County Health Department, said in a news release “Prevention strategies that include vaccines, masks, and social distancing are our best defense against the COVID-19 virus and its variants.”
Cases have been steadily increasing in Lake County over the past month, with Lake County’s positivity rate more than doubling in the last week.
“As the Delta variant becomes more prevalent nationally, we are seeing that it spreads more easily than other variants,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, medical epidemiologist at the Health Department. “New COVID-19 cases are being seen primarily among unvaccinated individuals and our younger population.”
More than 739,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Lake County residents, and over 51% are fully vaccinated. Additionally, 85% of Lake County residents age 65 and above have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 80% are fully vaccinated.
At this time children under the age of 12 are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. As with other unvaccinated individuals, they remain especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
The Lake County Health Department strongly recommends school districts begin the 2021–22 school year with layered COVID-19 prevention strategies that are outlined in the updated CDC guidance for K-12 schools and adopted by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
“Children, even if without symptoms and with lower risk for severe illness, are still able to become ill with COVID-19 and spread it to others,” Pfister said. “With younger children unable to be vaccinated at this time, layered prevention strategies are the best way to keep our young students safe throughout the school year and keep students in the classroom.”
Combating Health Misinformation
The U.S. Surgeon General recently released an advisory on Confronting Health Misinformation, stating that “health misinformation is a serious threat to public health.”
One recent widespread article by JAMA Pediatrics, claiming that masks are ineffective and harmful, was retracted due to insufficient evidence and flawed methodology. Before its retraction, this source was widely cited as evidence against the use of masks. This is just one example of health misinformation and the effect it can have.
The effectiveness of masks to stop the spread of germs is well established by the CDC and other official sources. The CDC and IDPH have affirmed that unvaccinated individuals should continue to follow necessary prevention measures including wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
Residents can work to stop the spread of misinformation by:
• Learning how to identify misinformation. Verify the accuracy of information and ensure that it is from a reliable source before you share it.
• Work with your community on addressing misinformation. Consider how you can share reliable health information within your community such as through faith groups and community organizations.
• Engage with your loved ones on the issues of health misinformation. If someone you care about is sharing health misinformation, listen with empathy. Try to understand why they feel this way and avoid judgment.