Increasing COVID-19 metrics leads McHenry County Department of Health to urge residents to get vaccinated

CDC, county health department have different community transmission designations, but MCDH says metrics are trending toward ‘substantial’ transmission

The McHenry County Department of Health is urging residents to take precautions as state and local COVID-19 data shows growing disease spread within the community.

This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with a transmission map that tracks spread of COVID-19 by county. Under the CDC’s map, McHenry County is under a “substantial” transmission designation with more than 50 new cases of the disease diagnosed for every 100,000 people over the past week.

But McHenry County’s Department of Health has the area listed as “moderate” transmission on its dashboard.

Both the CDC and county are looking at the same two data points: the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of coronavirus tests that came back positive in a seven-day period.

While the the incidence rate the McHenry County Department of Health is looking at is 50.7 cases per 100 residents, the CDC’s was 57.51.

Either way, however, the rate should meet the CDC and county health department’s definition of “substantial transmission,” which is 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days.

High transmission would mean more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people, while moderate transmission means 10 to 49.99 new cases over a seven-day period.

The Northwest Herald reached out to the McHenry County health department to ask about the discrepancy and followed up again after the news release was issued about 5 p.m. Friday, but county officials did not respond by deadline.

However, according to the news release, state and local COVID-19 data shows an “increasing trend toward substantial community transmission” in McHenry County, even with the different data the agencies are looking at.

“The uptick in COVID-19 cases is a reminder that the pandemic isn’t over,” Public Health Administrator Melissa Adamson said. “Vaccines work, and they are our best prevention strategy to disrupt transmission and end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In fact, health officials in McHenry County expect to see the number of cases increase in the coming weeks as the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has been identified in the county.

“The delta variant has been found in counties throughout Illinois,” Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said in an email. “Variant strains have been found across Illinois. The variants spread in the same manner as SARS-CoV-2 and the precautions people should take to prevention infection are the same – vaccination, masking, distancing.”

With this in mind, the McHenry County health department said in the news release that it is urging all residents 12 and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible to reduce the risk of severe illness caused by the virus.

The news release from MCDH also advised wearing a mask and physically distancing, washing their hands and avoiding crowded places.

“To prevent the further spread of the virus, individuals with COVID-19 need to isolate, and their close contacts, anyone they’ve been in contact with within 6 feet for 15 minutes, need to quarantine and get tested,” the release states.

COVID-19 testing is available at the McHenry mass vaccination site at 1900 N. Richmond Road in McHenry. On select days, McHenry County health department also is vaccinating residents against COVID-19 at its Woodstock and Crystal Lake clinics.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

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