New COVID-19 cases push past 2,000 again; Kane, Will counties put in 'warning level'
New cases of COVID-19 surged by 2,264 Friday, a 73% increase from a month ago, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
The development mirrors last week when new cases shot up Friday, Aug. 7, surpassing 2,000 for the first time since late May.
Also Friday, the IDPH put Kane, Will and 12 other counties not in the metro area at a "warning level," for spikes in two or more health metrics.
Kane County had 105 cases per 100,000 people of the virus between Aug. 2 and 8; the state's target is less than 50. Kane reported seven COVID-19 deaths for the week ending Aug. 8, compared with five deaths between July 26 and Aug. 1, and four deaths between July 19 and 25.
Will County hit 93 cases per 100,000 people last week and experienced a 5.8% increase in emergency room visits from people with symptoms of the respiratory disease. The goal is decreasing or stable numbers.
"We are seeing too many people disregarding recommendations that is leading to COVID-19 related increased illness and subsequent death," Kane County Health Department Director Barbara Jeffers said in a statement, referring to wearing face masks, social distancing and washing hands.
The warnings are meant to raise local awareness and guide people's decisions about travel and activities in those areas.
IDPH officials reported 25 more deaths Friday.
That leaves the state with 202,691 total cases and 7,721 deaths since the pandemic broke out.
The seven-day average positivity rate stands at 4.1%.
There were 1,612 patients in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 as of Thursday night, which is higher than August's average of 1,508.
In the last seven days, new cases of the virus totaled 12,183.
For comparison, new cases between July 8 and 14 totaled 7,054 -- a 5,129 difference.
"It's not good," pediatrician and Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital Medical Director Michael Bauer said.
One bright spot is that hospitalization rates are still far from the numbers seen this spring, he noted, partly because many new cases are younger people who often don't get as sick as older patients.
"The worry is different from our hospitals getting overloaded again. We're nowhere near that," Bauer said.
Some U.S. experts predict a virus vaccine could be available in early 2021.
"The vaccine is going to be very helpful," Bauer said, "but it's not in all likelihood going to be like the polio vaccine" that eradicated that disease in the U.S. "It's probably going to be more similar to the flu vaccines," with 60% to 65% successful results. "It's not like we get the (COVID-19) vaccine and in three months it's gone."
As many parents agonize about whether it's safe to send their children back to school, Bauer said preliminary research shows "young children under the age of 10 are much less likely to get sick with the disease and to transmit the disease to others."
He advised parents to arm themselves with information about virus case numbers and the positivity rate in their communities when making decisions.
"Getting kids back to school really is a priority but it's got to be done in a thoughtful manner with the ability to be flexible and adaptable and respects everyone's concerns," Bauer said.
And that includes wearing masks. "People crowded indoors without face coverings is a recipe for disaster," Bauer said.
Other counties put on warning status are: Bureau, Cass, Clinton, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Jefferson, LaSalle, Moultrie, Perry, Union, and Will.