CDC: Will County has ‘substantial’ level of coronavirus transmission

The county’s positivity rate has jumped to above 4% in the past few weeks

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Will County is considered to have a “substantial” level of community transmission of the novel coronavirus.

The CDC considers a county to have substantial transmission if it’s recording between 50 and 99 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period, according to a county news release.

The Will County Health Department said much of that transmission is attributed to the highly contagious delta variant.

Illinois Department of Public Health data also shows significantly increased transmission of the virus. As of Tuesday, the rolling average positivity rate in Will County stood at 4.6%.

Just two weeks ago, the county’s positivity rate was 1.7%, a sign of how rapidly the public health situation has changed locally and across the country.

“In the last few weeks we have seen positive COVID case numbers more than triple,” said Sue Olenek, the executive director of the county health department, in a statement. “It is mostly due to the delta variant, but it is still COVID-19, and those who are unvaccinated are at risk. Please get your vaccination, and therefore limit the transmission of the virus. As the number of vaccinated individuals increases, the virus has less people to infect, and therefore less of an opportunity to continue mutating.”

The Will County Health Department has also advised residents, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated, to wear masks indoors in public settings.

Public entities around the county are taking heed of the worrisome transmission numbers.

Just in the last week, the Will County Courthouse, the Plainfield Park District and the village of Bolingbrook announced they are requiring all visitors to wear a mask when in their facilities.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 have also picked up as of late in Will County. About 1,200 shots per day are being administered, according to the latest IDPH data.

Will County government also said it would require universal mask wearing in its buildings.

“We are listening to our public health experts, and they are saying that Will County is experiencing a rapid rise in infections amongst the unvaccinated.” County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant said in a statement.

As of Friday, 49.7% of Will County’s more than 690,000 residents were fully vaccinated.

Will County officials have been urging residents who have not gotten vaccinated to get their shots.

For more information about COVID-19, including where to get vaccinated, visit willcountyhealth.org.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.