Suburbs seeing another uptick in COVID-19 cases

  • An increase in COVID-19 cases statewide in November prompted DuPage County health officials to outfit a second testing site in the county at Villa Park's Odeum Expo Center.

    An increase in COVID-19 cases statewide in November prompted DuPage County health officials to outfit a second testing site in the county at Villa Park's Odeum Expo Center. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, November 2020

 
 
Updated 12/31/2020 5:40 PM

Not even a week ago, DuPage County's seven-day average COVID-19 case positivity rate was below 6%, and lower than the rates in Chicago, suburban Cook County and the four other collar counties.

Now, it's at 8.2% and lower than only Kane, McHenry and Will counties.

 

While the case positivity rates among the seven Chicago area locations, as well as statewide, are climbing again, nowhere is that more noticeable than in DuPage County, where the rate was just at 5.9% on Saturday, according to Illinois Department of Public Health figures.

Local medical experts say they are constantly monitoring fluctuations in caseloads.

"Edward-Elmhurst Health has a data analytics team that provides system data on positivity and COVID-19 admissions on a daily basis," said Dr. Ankur Singal, co-chair of the COVID-19 steering committee at DuPage-based Edward-Elmhurst Health. "This data is reviewed daily to better guide care teams for surge planning and resource management across the system."

Lake County's seven-day average case positivity rate is the lowest at 7.5%, but just five days ago it was at 6.4%. Suburban Cook County's rate Thursday was 8.1% and the city of Chicago was reporting a rate of 7.6%.

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McHenry County currently has the highest seven-day average case positivity rate at 10.6%, followed by Will County's 10.4% and Kane County at 10%.

Statewide, IDPH officials reported the seven-day average case positivity rate for all of Illinois increased for the fourth consecutive day Thursday, to 7.7%. The rate is a key metric health officials use to track the level of new infections among a population group. A seven-day rolling average is used to smooth any anomalies in the daily reporting of test results and new cases.

It's unclear if the recent spike in cases is an anomaly or a dreaded surge from Thanksgiving gatherings.

Health officials warned that detecting a surge from those gatherings could take one to two gestation cycles for the virus. A COVID-19 gestation cycle is 14 days, and this uptick in cases began four weeks after Thanksgiving weekend.

State health officials have been hesitant to relax mitigation restrictions on businesses and social gatherings because of concerns about case surges from holiday gatherings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We know mitigation works when communities work together to follow the advice from public health experts," said Jordan Abudayyeh, press secretary for Gov. J.B. Pritzker. "Once we get through the holidays and IDPH can monitor the data for any possible surges, we will be able to move regions when they hit the metrics to move back to lower tiers."

Meanwhile, state health officials reported Thursday more than 8,000 new cases were diagnosed, a figure last reached more than two weeks ago.

IDPH officials also announced 133 more Illinois residents have died from COVID-19. That brings the state's death toll from the virus to 16,490, while 963,389 Illinois residents have been infected since the outbreak began.

The state is averaging 121 deaths a day over the past week. While not the most the state has seen lately, it is once again higher than what the state saw during the initial COVID-19 surge last spring.

IDPH officials reported the number of people being treated in hospitals across the state dropped to 4,093 as of Wednesday. Of those hospitalized, 837 are being treated in intensive care.

Experts note that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator in pandemics and that when cases increase, eventually so will hospitalizations.

In fact, earlier this week the four suburban health regions all were reporting traditional hospital bed and ICU bed availability in excess of 20% for the first time in weeks. Thursday, none were meeting that metric, according to IDPH records on its website, dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics.

Also on Thursday, Pritzker's office reported that 143,924 Illinoisans, including Chicagoans, have received their first doses of the vaccine. All residents and staff members who consented to receiving the vaccine at the state run veterans' homes have gotten them, Abudayyeh said.

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