McHenry County sees 3 more COVID-19 outbreaks in schools

Number of outbreaks tied to schools up by a quarter from previous week

Three more COVID-19 outbreaks were reported over the past week in McHenry County schools, increasing the total to 15 from the 12 reported last week, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

McHenry Elementary School District 15′s Valley View Elementary School and Prairie Grove School District 46′s Prairie Grove Junior High were the only new schools added to the list of outbreaks, while a second outbreak was reported at District 15′s Chauncey H. Duker School. Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake also has reported two outbreaks.

The other McHenry County schools that have reported outbreaks are District 15′s Edgebrook Elementary School, Huntley School District 158′s Conley Elementary School in Algonquin and Martin Elementary School in Lake in the Hills, Nippersink Elementary School District 2′s Spring Grove Elementary School, Woodstock School District 200′s Greenwood Elementary School, Algonquin-based Community School District 300′s Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Johnsburg School District 12′s Johnsburg High School, Marengo High School District 154′s Marengo Community High School and St. John the Baptist School in Johnsburg.

The second outbreak at Hannah Beardsley Middle School reported Sept. 10 now includes five to 10 cases among students, as does the initial outbreak at Chauncey H. Duker School reported Sept. 10 and the one reported at Conley Elementary.

All the other outbreaks include fewer than five cases as of Friday, when the state school outbreak data was last updated. They are all tied to classrooms, with the exceptions of the Prairie Grove Junior High outbreak, which is tied to the bus system, and Johnsburg High School, where an outbreak is connected to sports.

The Valley View Elementary and Johnsburg High outbreaks include cases among staff and students, Spring Grove Elementary’s is among solely staff and the rest of the outbreaks are among just students, the state health department report showed.

The number of outbreaks in McHenry County schools rose even as the reported COVID-19 cases among children between 5 and 11 years old dropped by nearly a third to 47 for the week ending Sept. 18, the most recent data the state has published, down from 67 the week before. Cases among 12- through 17-year-olds also fell to 42 from 44 over the same period while cases among 18- through 22-year-olds were up to 29 from 25.

Across McHenry County, another 75 new COVID-19 cases were reported Friday by the McHenry County Department of Health, bringing the total number of cases to 33,229, including 301 deaths and 30 deaths that likely were caused by COVID-19 but could not be confirmed. No additional deaths were reported Friday.

McHenry County’s incidence rate rose slightly with Friday’s reporting, ending a five-day streak of declining transmission. Even before the small increase recorded Friday, the rate remained above the threshold that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers to mark “high” transmission.

The number of new cases in the past seven days was 136.49 per 100,000 residents as of Sunday, the most recent day for which data is available, according to the McHenry County health department’s school metrics dashboard.

For spread to meet the less severe category “substantial,” the incidence rate would need to fall below 100 new cases over seven days per 100,000 residents and remain there for a week, according to the county health department.

McHenry County’s test positivity rate was 3.8% as of Tuesday, the 20th day it has been within the low transmission range of zero to 4.9%, according to the McHenry County health department. The positivity rate is measured by a seven-day rolling average with a three-day lag.

Both the CDC and McHenry County health department use the incidence rate and positivity rate to categorize COVID-19 transmission. When the two metrics do not fall within the same transmission risk category, the higher one is chosen, according to the county health department.

Region 9, which is made up of Lake and McHenry counties, had a positivity rate of 3.5% as of Tuesday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Intensive care unit availability in McHenry and Lake counties dipped again on Thursday, marking the 12th straight day ICU capacity has been under the 20% benchmark in the two-county region.

ICU capacity in the region fell to 16%. The state has used the 20% mark as a trigger point for adding restrictions on gatherings and business activity. The region had fallen below that threshold for the first time over the course of the pandemic in mid-August before climbing to 22% earlier this month and then dropping below the threshold again Sept. 12.

As of Thursday, the number of people hospitalized in both counties was 91, down by three from Wednesday.

The region saw the number of patients hospitalized decrease or remain stable each of the past 10 days, the IDPH reported Friday. The total number of people in the hospital for COVID-19 in McHenry and Lake counties fell below 100 for the first time in more than four weeks on Tuesday.

In McHenry County alone, 7.1% of medical and surgical beds were available Friday and 28.1% of intensive care unit beds were, according to the McHenry County Department of Health. Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable eight out of the past 10 days in McHenry County.

Statewide, the number of hospitalizations tied to COVID-19 went down Thursday to 1,926, according to the IDPH. Of those, 474 were in ICUs, a decrease from 493 on Wednesday, and 252 were on ventilators, an increase from 240 Wednesday.

Meanwhile, an additional 483 COVID-19 vaccines were administered to McHenry County residents Thursday, bringing the total number of doses administered to 346,570, the IDPH reported Friday.

A total of 171,276 county residents, or an estimated 55.51%% of McHenry County’s population, now are fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve received all the doses recommended for the vaccine they were given.

Statewide, 14,419,886 vaccines have been administered, according to state data.

Across Illinois, 79.2% of those age 12 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, and 61.8% are fully vaccinated, the IDPH reported Friday. Those rates are 80.7% and 63.4% for people 18 and older and 94.7% and 77.8% for those 65 and older.

The IIDPH reported 3,304 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide on Friday. Another 40 deaths were also logged Friday, bringing the totals to 1,612,129 cases, 24,783 confirmed deaths and 2,657 probable deaths.

Neighboring Lake County’s health department reported 69,715 cases and 1,064 deaths through Thursday, and to the south, Kane County’s health department reported 65,229 cases and 842 deaths on Sept. 17, the last day for which data is available.

Among McHenry County ZIP codes, Crystal Lake (60014) has the highest number of COVID-19 cases with a total of 5,098 confirmed cases, according to county data. Woodstock (60098) followed with 3,802 cases.

The McHenry County health department reports ZIP code data only for parts within McHenry County, a department spokeswoman said. Any discrepancies between county and IDPH numbers likely are because of the data’s provisional nature and because each health department finalizes its data at different times, she said.

The following is the rest of the local breakdown of cases by ZIP code: McHenry (60050) 3,556; Lake in the Hills (60156) 3,069; Huntley (60142) 2,487; Algonquin (60102) 2,433; Cary (60013) 2,318; Johnsburg and McHenry (60051) 2,272; Harvard (60033) 1,718; Marengo (60152) 1,354; Crystal Lake, Bull Valley and Prairie Grove (60012) 1,143; Wonder Lake (60097) 1,088; Spring Grove (60081) 850; Island Lake (60042) 477; Fox River Grove (60021) 432; Richmond (60071) 369; Hebron (60034) 209; Barrington (60010) 175; Union (60180) 148; and Ringwood and Wonder Lake (60072) 83.

Sam Lounsberry

Sam Lounsberry

Sam Lounsberry covers local government, business, K-12 education and all other aspects of life in McHenry County, in particular in the communities of Woodstock, McHenry, Richmond, Spring Grove, Wonder Lake and Johnsburg.