COVID-19 notebook: Sauk Valley transmission rates remain high

Transmission rates for COVID-19 continue to soar, especially for Ogle and Whiteside counties. Two more Sauk Valley schools were considered to have outbreaks as defined by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Meanwhile, the list of schools with potential exposures based on contact tracing is growing.

Lastly: What is the availability of intensive care unit beds in regional hospitals?

Here is a look at key data points from the past week.

Transmission rates

According to information posted on Sept. 16, Ogle County has a transmission rate of 333.71 per 100,000 population, which is highest in the Sauk Valley.

Over a 7-day period, Ogle had 169 cases.

Whiteside is at 266.43 with 147 new cases in the previous week. Carroll was at 223.70 with 32 new cases and Lee was at 187.71 with 64 cases.


According to the report updated on Friday, two new schools were added to the list of outbreaks. There was a new instance of an outbreak at Highland Elementary (which also had outbreaks on Aug. 27 and Sept. 3) and Reagan Middle School related to a sports team.

The other schools with outbreaks in the last 30 days were Oregon Elementary on Sept. 3 and Stillman Valley High School on Aug. 27.

School-age cases

For the week ending Sept. 11, the IDPH said that there were 58 cases in Ogle County involving individuals in the school-age brackets. There were 26 in the 5 to 11 year-old range, 23 in the 12 to 17 year-old range, and nine in the 18-22 bracket.

Lee had 17, with six in the 5-11 group, three in the 12-17 group and eight in the 18-22 group.

Whiteside had three in the 5-11, one in the 12-17 and seven in the 18-22.

Carroll had four in the 5-11, three in the 12-17 and three in the 18-22.

School potential exposures

The IDPH relies on contract tracing as an indicator of potential COVID-19 exposure in schools. According to the report on Friday, which includes all schools for the past 30 days, Ogle had 14 schools on the list, Whiteside 10, Lee nine and Carroll none.

Here are the schools by county:

Ogle: Byron HS, Byron Middle, Centennial Elementary, Forreston Grade, Highland Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Mary Morgan Elementary, Meridian Junior High, OCEC Life Skills, Oregon Elementary, Rochelle CCSD, Rochelle Middle, Stillman Valley HS, Tilton Elementary.

Whiteside: Special Ed High School, ECSE Montmorency, ECSE Prophetstown, Life Skills HS Morrison, Lincoln Elementary, PLT Middle, Rock Falls Middle, Rock Falls HS, Tampico Elementary.

Lee: Amboy Junior, Ashton Franklin Center Elementary, Faith Christian, Jefferson Elementary. Lee County ECE, Lee County Life Skills, Lee County Transitions, Madison, Reagan Middle.

ICU capacity

The IDPH publishes ICU availability based on EMS region. Demand is slowly easing in Region 1, though it is still in an alert range. As of Thursday, there were 26 beds available in northwest Illinois.

The federal Health and Human Services tracks hospital utilization by facility.

The federal data set lags in comparison with the IDPH (the most recent was updated on Sept. 13), but it does provide a look at the demand for ICU beds.

According to HHS, five of the six ICU beds at KSB Hospital in Dixon were occupied (that’s the highest percentage since July 16). CGH Medical Center in Sterling was using 11 of its 18 beds.

FHN Memorial in Freeport is using five of eight beds, Kishwaukee in DeKalb is using nine of 12, Rockford Swedish American is using all 30 of its beds, Saint Anthony in Rockford is using 27 of 57, Mercy Health in Rockford is using 30 of 34.

All four of Rochelle Community’s beds are available.

Some regional hospitals do not have ICU beds: Midwest Medical Center in Galena, Kindred in Sycamore and Morrison Hospital.

In Clinton, Iowa, MercyOne Medical Center is using 11 of 15 ICU beds.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.