Kane County seeing rise in COVID-19 cases among school-aged children

  • COURTESY OF THE KANE COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT

    COURTESY OF THE KANE COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT

 
 
Updated 9/17/2020 10:41 AM
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new statistics provided by Barb Jeffers, the executive director of the Kane County Public Health Department, showing the number of COVID-19 cases among people under age 19 for a recent one-week period.

With the start of the new school year, children and young adults up to age 19 represent 25% of the positive tests of COVID-19 in Kane County, health officials said Wednesday.

County health officials told the county board's public health committee that they are working with schools to reduce that number, but group settings continue to be the main sources of transmitting the disease.

 

Numbers show the percentage of people 19 and younger testing positive for the virus began trending upward as early as the first full week of April. By the end of May, 15% of positive COVID-19 tests in Kane County came in that age group. After a slight downward trend in early June, the general trend moved toward the current 25% mark.

"The biggest increase we've seen recently is between the 10- and 19-year-olds," said Barb Jeffers, the executive director of the Kane County Public Health Department. "We believe that's because of schools starting, and sports are starting. So we're having an increase in outbreaks in schools. We really need to have that trend go downward."

Jeffers didn't present raw numbers to the committee but later said the county reported 487 cases for the week of Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, and people younger than 19 accounted for 20.7%, or 101 of those cases.

The upswing in young people testing positive for COVID-19 is keeping the county on the verge of returning to the state's watch list. The state wants the county to have a positive case rate of fewer than 50 people per 100,000 residents. The county's current rate is 100 cases per 100,000 residents.

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Jeffers said there are signs people are being less diligent about washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing. She said there's also an uptick in workers at local manufacturing plants testing positive, as well as people spreading the virus at weddings and private parties.

"When we become complacent, our test positivity goes up," Jeffers said.

It's also about to get a little tougher to get a COVID-19 test in Kane County. The testing site at the Chicago Premium Outlet mall in Aurora will close at the end of September when the state contract runs out. Jeffers said her office is working to get another site. Until then, mobile "pop up" testing sites will circulate throughout the county.

The good news is contact tracing has kicked into full gear, and most people who learn they've been exposed to COVID-19 are cooperating, Jeffers said.

She also said the county's contact tracers make about 500 calls per day, and more than 13,000 total since the county amped up the program last month. Fewer than 6% of people called by the contact tracers have refused to cooperate.

The contact tracers also make daily calls to residents who have the virus to check the status. Those whose illness worsens are directed to get medical care.

"I'm just over the moon with how well we're doing with our contact tracing," Jeffers said.

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