COVID-19 outbreaks reported at two more McHenry County schools, IDPH says

New outbreaks were at Crystal Lake Central High School, McHenry KinderCare’s pre-K

Crystal Lake Central High School and McHenry KinderCare this week joined the list of McHenry County schools to have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Hampshire High School also announced Friday that it would switch to remote learning for two weeks because of the spread of COVID-19, although the school was not on the state’s list of schools experiencing outbreaks.

Kane County Health Department spokeswoman Susan Stack referred all questions to Community School District 300, which includes Hampshire High School. The county health department is responsible for reporting outbreaks to the state, according to the IDPH’s website.

An attempt to reach a District 300 official Friday was not successful.

The outbreaks at Crystal Lake Central and KinderCare each have fewer than five cases, and both involve students but not staff, according to the IDPH’s website, which is updated each Friday.

In a letter to families, Crystal Lake Central Principal Eric Ernd said both the McHenry County Department of Health and the IDPH have declared an outbreak for the freshman class.

After completing a review of the school’s COVID-19 data, the health departments were able to link less than four confirmed cases of COVID-19 among individuals, Ernd said in the letter, which was sent to the Northwest Herald by the district’s spokeswoman, Shannon Podzimek.

Staff and freshman parents were notified of the outbreak Monday, Podzimek said.

An outbreak in a school is defined as two confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections occurring within 14 calendar days of each other in individuals in the same classroom, team or club, according to the McHenry County health department.

During the outbreak, PCR tests will be required for any freshman connected to this exposure who is experiencing symptoms, Ernd said. Rapid tests will not be accepted.

“We want to emphasize that this is not based on new information or a sudden event; the health department investigation takes time to complete,” Ernd said. “We want to reassure you that you would already have been contacted had you been determined to have a close contact. We continue to track confirmed COVID-19 cases, identify close contacts and notify close contacts in collaboration with the McHenry County Department of Health.”

Crystal Lake Central’s operations staff continues to deep clean and disinfect the building throughout the day and every night, Ernd said in the email.

An attempt to reach McHenry KinderCare on Friday was not successful.

Meanwhile, an additional 72 COVID-19 cases were reported Friday by the McHenry County health department, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 34,119, including 308 deaths and 32 deaths that likely were caused by COVID-19 but could not be confirmed. No additional deaths were reported Friday.

The county said it will not update its COVID-19 dashboard Monday in observance of Columbus Day.

The county’s incidence rate remained well above the threshold that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers to mark a “high” transmission of COVID-19.

The number of new cases over the previous seven days was 137.14 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’s health department.

McHenry County’s test positivity rose slightly to 3.3% as of Tuesday, the 34th straight day it has been within the low transmission range of zero percent to 4.9%, according to the McHenry County health department.

The county’s positivity rate – measured by a seven-day rolling average with a three-day lag – has been hovering at and slightly above 3% for more than a week, state data shows. It has not been below 3% since July 15.

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 2.4% as of Tuesday, according to the IDPH.

Intensive care unit availability across McHenry and Lake counties rose to 22% Thursday, the IDPH reported.

The two-county region fell below the 20% threshold, which has been used as a trigger point for implementing more strict health mitigations on regions, twice this summer, something that hadn’t occurred during either last year’s fall peak or the more recent spring surge.

The number of people hospitalized in both counties was 95 on Thursday, the same as the day before, the IDPH reported Friday. The region saw the number of patients hospitalized decrease or remain stable nine of the past 10 days.

In McHenry County alone, 6.5% of medical and surgical beds and 22.9% of ICU beds were available, according to the McHenry County health department. Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable seven out of the past 10 days in McHenry County.

Statewide, the number of hospitalizations tied to COVID-19 went down Thursday to 1,653, continuing a downward trend from the more than 1,800 seen at the end of September, according to the IDPH. Of those, 412 were in the ICU and 209 were on ventilators.

The number of McHenry County residents getting COVID-19 vaccines continued to rise, with the seven-day rolling average of administered doses rising to 762, the highest it’s been since Aug. 18, state data showed Friday.

An additional 512 COVID-19 vaccines were administered to McHenry County residents Thursday, bringing the total number of doses administered to 355,041, the IDPH reported.

A total of 173,995 county residents, or an estimated 56.39% of McHenry County’s population, now are fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve received all doses recommended for the vaccine they were given.

Statewide, 14,822,824 vaccines have been administered, according to state data.

Across Illinois, 80.4% of those age 12 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, and 63% are fully vaccinated, the IDPH reported Friday. Those rates are 82% and 64.5% for people 18 and older and 96.2% and 78.6% for those 65 and older.

The IDPH reported 2,744 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide Friday. Another 35 deaths also were logged Friday, bringing the totals to 1,650,108 cases, 25,224 confirmed deaths and 2,741 probable deaths.

Neighboring Lake County’s health department reported 71,138 cases and 1,074 deaths through Thursday, and to the south, Kane County’s health department reported 67,141 case and 865 deaths Friday.

Among McHenry County ZIP codes, Crystal Lake (60014) has the highest number of COVID-19 cases with a total of 5,231 confirmed cases, according to county data. Woodstock (60098) followed with 3,909 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) 3,676; Lake in the Hills (60156) 3,130; Huntley (60142) 2,561; Algonquin (60102) 2,471; Cary (60013) 2,357; Johnsburg and McHenry (60051) 2,339; Harvard (60033) 1,774; Marengo (60152) 1,394; Crystal Lake, Bull Valley and Prairie Grove (60012) 1,172; Wonder Lake (60097) 1,132; Spring Grove (60081) 876; Island Lake (60042) 484; Fox River Grove (60021) 441; Richmond (60071) 384; Hebron (60034) 213; Barrington (60010) 178; Union (60180) 153; and Ringwood and Wonder Lake (60072) 87.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.