IDPH: Three new COVID-19 outbreaks reported at single McHenry County school

Conley Elementary School in Algonquin also reports its second outbreak with 15 cases among students

Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47's administrative office is photographed on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.

Four new outbreaks were reported this week at McHenry County schools, including three outbreaks at a single Crystal Lake elementary school, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Three outbreaks were reported Wednesday at Woods Creek Elementary School, part of Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47, the IPDH said in its weekly update on school and youth-related outbreaks.

One outbreak involves five cases among staff and students, another involves fewer than five cases among both staff and students, and the last involves fewer than five cases among students, according to the report. All three were tied to the classroom.

The three outbreaks bring the total to five so far this year. The first outbreak, reported Oct. 12, involved fewer than five cases among students and was tied to the classroom. The second was reported Dec. 7, involved 13 cases among staff and students and also was tied to the classroom.

District 47 spokeswoman Denise Barr said the district thinks the increase in cases most likely is because of group gatherings over winter break and the increased contagiousness of the omicron variant.

The district is following IDPH and McHenry County Department of Health protocols in monitoring the outbreak, testing students and staff in its SHIELD test-to-stay program, and quarantining those who do not want to be tested, Barr said. Any additional cases will reported to the health department.

Conley Elementary School in Algonquin, part of Huntley School District 158, is undergoing an outbreak with 15 cases among students, as reported Wednesday, the IDPH said. The outbreak was tied to the bus.

Many of the positive cases associated with this outbreak were identified in the first days students returned after two weeks of winter break and were among students participating in the district’s SHIELD testing program, said Alex LeMoine, the district’s director of communications.

“This weekly testing program has and will continue to allow us to identify positive cases and respond swiftly through effective contact tracing and appropriate periods of quarantine in order to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19,” LeMoine said. “Along with the continued practice of all our mitigation efforts – including universal and proper mask-wearing, COVID-19 testing opportunities and physical distancing – we also follow seating charts on our buses to ensure that close contacts are identified properly and in a timely manner.”

The district also seats siblings together to limit any potential exposure from household to household and keeps air vents on buses open to allow for better air ventilation, LeMoine said.

This is the school’s second outbreak. The last was reported in early September and involved five to 10 cases among staff and students in which the source was the classroom.

McHenry County has six current outbreaks at area schools and youth organizations, the IDPH reported. The remaining two were first reported Dec. 21.

Both of those outbreaks, one at the Alexander Leigh Center for Autism and another at Lake in the Hills Elementary School, saw the total number of cases tied to them increase this week to five cases each, according to the IDPH report.

The Alexander Leigh Center includes cases among both staff and students and the source is tied to the classroom, while the Lake in the Hills Elementary outbreak is among students only and involves the bus.

The level of COVID-19 transmission in McHenry County remained high Friday, the McHenry County health department reported.

The local health department reported seven additional deaths from COVID-19 and 881 new cases Friday, bringing the total to 56,316, including 377 deaths and 36 deaths that likely were caused by COVID-19 but have not been confirmed.

The county reported 23 COVID-19 deaths in December as of Friday, up from 18 as of Tuesday, the last time it increased the county death toll. The county has recorded two COVID-19 deaths so far in 2022.

The test positivity rate for the county, as measured by a seven-day rolling average, decreased to 21% Tuesday, according to the IDPH.

The region including both Lake and McHenry counties saw its test positivity rate fall Tuesday to 17.4%.

McHenry County’s incidence rate increased to 1,066.9 new cases over seven days per 100,000 residents as of Sunday, the last day for which data was reported, according to the McHenry County health department.

That’s remains below Friday’s peak, which was the highest the county had seen over the previous 250 days, the time period published by the county, but remains more than 10 times the threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to indicate a high level of transmission within a community.

For transmission risk 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 the positivity rate would need to be below 10%, according to the McHenry County health department. Both metrics would then need to stay below those levels for a week.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in McHenry and Lake counties reached 406, a new high for the pandemic, the IDPH reported Friday.

Hospitalizations, measured by a seven-day rolling average, have increased every day since Dec. 26 in the two-county region, state data shows.

Hospital intensive care unit availability across McHenry and Lake counties remained at 14%, marking the 16th straight day below the 20% threshold previously used by the state as a trigger point for imposing stricter health mitigations.

In McHenry County alone, 2.9% of medical and surgical hospital beds remain available on average, according to the seven-day rolling mean reported Friday by the McHenry County health department. An average of 12.9% of intensive care unit beds were available.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19-like illness have increased five of the past 10 days in the county as of Friday.

Statewide, the number of hospitalizations tied to COVID-19 decreased Thursday to 7,320, the IDPH reported. Of those hospitalized, 1,148 patients were in the ICU and 657 were on ventilators.

An additional 1,204 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered to McHenry County residents Thursday, according to the IDPH, bringing the total number administered locally to 477,546. The state reported that 86,301 booster shots were administered in McHenry County.

A total of 191,559 county residents, or an estimated 62.08% of McHenry County’s population, now are fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve received all doses recommended for the vaccine they were given.

Statewide, 19,893,424 vaccines have been administered, according to state data.

Across Illinois, 78.5% of those age 5 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, and 69.2% are fully vaccinated, the IDPH reported Friday. Those rates are 82.8% and 73.6% for those age 12 and older, 84.4% and 75% for people 18 and older, and 95% and 87% for those 65 and older, respectively.

Statewide, the IDPH on Friday tallied 29,639 total new cases of COVID-19. Another 153 deaths also were logged, bringing the totals to 2,589,640 cases, 29,099 confirmed deaths and 3,433 probable deaths.

Neighboring Lake County’s health department reported a total of 101,251 cases and 1,182 deaths through Thursday. To the south, Kane County’s health department reported 101,656 cases and 980 deaths as of Friday.

Among McHenry County ZIP codes, Crystal Lake (60014) has the highest number of COVID-19 cases with a total of 8,916 confirmed, according to county data. McHenry (60050) follows with 6,339.

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: Woodstock (60098) 6,296 cases; Lake in the Hills (60156) 5,039; Huntley (60142) 4,276; Cary (60013) 4,239; Algonquin (60102) 3,916; Johnsburg and McHenry (60051) 3,697; Harvard (60033) 2,641; Marengo (60152) 2,198; Wonder Lake (60097) 2,035; Crystal Lake, Bull Valley and Prairie Grove (60012) 1,996; Spring Grove (60081) 1,265; Fox River Grove (60021) 788; Island Lake (60042) 768; Richmond (60071) 594; Hebron (60034) 320; Barrington (60010) 262; Union (60180) 232; and Ringwood and Wonder Lake (60072) 155.