Local News

Ogle County continues to see COVID-19 increase

Second variant discovered locally

OREGON – Months ago, the Ogle County Health Department was seeing five new COVID-19 cases per day; now it’s seeing 20 to 40, Administrator Kyle Auman said.

“Things have been very hectic,” Auman said. “We’re getting cases in all different areas of the county. A lot in school athletics. We’re seeing issues at businesses. Positivity is holding steady around 5%. We’re certainly concerned.”

Auman said tracking current spread has been a lot to keep up with, and the difference between past increases is now the OCHD is busy doing vaccination operations.

“We’re spread thin and exhausted,” Auman said.

COVID-19 activity in school athletics has caused the OCHD to start scheduling vaccination clinics for 16-18 year olds at county schools, which Auman said will begin this week.

Auman revealed that a second COVID-19 variant strain has been found in Ogle County. In recent weeks, the OCHD said the B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom was found here. That strain is more highly-transmissible and associated with severe illness.

The California B.1427 strain has also been seen in Ogle County, and is also more highly-transmissible. The OCHD is working on helping with antibody treatment for those who may need it in association with the variants.

“Because of those variants, we’re pushing for a strict 14-day quarantine, especially for those we know are infected with that,” Auman said. “I think it’s expected to get them here. More people are traveling.”

Auman said the current spread’s future will depend on the wave of variants and people adhering to masking and getting vaccinated. The OCHD is trying to remain optimistic, he said.

The state’s current bridge to phase 5 reopening plan doesn’t seem attainable for Ogle County at this point, he said.

“Right now with our current numbers, we’re there with vaccine numbers, but with cases and positivity, we need 28 days with a decrease or stabilization before we can start counting days,” Auman said. “We’re not there yet.”

Auman has long said that public health professionals have predicted another COVID-19 wave.

“It appears to be true,” Auman said. “Based on numbers from the state, we haven’t seen the peak of this wave. We’ll continue to see an increase in cases. It’s hard to know how long this wave will last.”