CLINTON — DeWitt County has now moved to the COVID-19 “Warning Level” for the first time based on Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPS) measures, DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department adminstrator David Remmert reported Friday.
Three measures out of the eight IDPH used are higher than in past weeks since case numbers spiked in the past week, according to Remmert.
The weekly incidence rate went from 101 per 100,000 people to 108 per 100,000 people, with the test positivity rate, going from 5.2 percent to 8.6 percent, and the number of tests dropping from 308 to 244 tests processed this week.
"I was hopeful we could manage our way through this pandemic without appearing on the warning list, but that isn't the case here," Remmert said.
One of the factors noted by staff for the increase in cases was gatherings around the Labor Day weekend.
"I also think part of the reason is that we simply don't see DeWitt County populations going in for testing as we do in other counties. For example, in Piatt County, almost three times as many tests were performed.”
Remmert said to mitigate the spike in cases, the health department encouraged mask wearing, maintaining social distances and refraining from hosting/attending indoor events and parties. The health department also stepped up its ability to provide contact tracing.
"We have notified all food services to encourage them to implement stricter protocols among staff and patrons at restaurants and bars, and we've hired three additional staff this week to keep up with our efforts at contact tracing,” Remmert said. “This is a best-practice method of reducing the spread of infection.”
Contact tracing is a process of contacting cases and contacts of cases to prevent further spread of the disease.
Remmert also said it was important during this heightened period of incidence that vulnerable populations, those with health issues and other co-morbidities, stay home as much as possible.
"Now is the time for both of our counties to double down in their personal efforts to stop the spread of this disease,” Remmert said. “This is a highly contagious disease, and while you may not necessarily have anything more than mild symptoms, you are capable of transmitting it to others. I worry about the spread to vulnerable populations."