By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Although no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Winnebago County Thursday, there are still more than 300 tests pending.
Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell said a total of 507 people have been tested in the county. Of those, there were 202 negative tests. Eight were positive, leaving 305 waiting for results.
“We report those numbers every day,” Martell said. “And positives can come throughout the day.”
The results Martell’s office receives come from hospital partners that provide her with logs of individuals they’ve tested through private labs. The results of those tests are then confirmed by the state.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 673 new cases of coronavirus statewide Thursday, including seven deaths; a man in his 50s, two men and two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s, and a woman in her 90s.
There are 2,538 active cases in Illinois. Twenty-six people have died. Approximately 87% of fatalities are among patients 60 years of age and older.
The disease has been found in 37 of Illinois’ 102 counties. More than 70% of COVID-19 cases are in Cook County.
But local leaders say just because Winnebago County hasn’t been hit hard by the pandemic, they are preparing for what could be a rash of cases and a strain on local health-care networks.
“In Winnebago County, quite honestly, we’ve been fortunate,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said,” and the number of cases (is) growing a bit slower here. We are behind the rest of the state and the country, however, we are using this time to prepare.”
Most people who contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, will experience flu-like symptoms and recover at home without clinical treatment. For senior citizens, those with pre-existing conditions and weak immune systems, the infection can be serious–even fatal, which is why McNamara said citizens must adhere to the governor’s stay-at-home order.
“We must continue to be vigilant,” he said. “We must stay home. We must continue to practice social distancing, continue to wash our hands and frequently used surfaces often.”
While people with COVID-19 complain of cough, runny nose, fever and body aches, experts have learned that it is possible to have the disease and experience no symptoms, making transmission difficult to trace. Doctors believe the virus has an incubation period of two to 14 days, which is why infected people are isolated for two weeks. Those who are potentially exposed to the coronavirus are also advised to quarantine for up to 14 days. And right now, leaders say, entire communities have potentially been exposed.
“We need all of us to practice these safe practices, so we can keep everyone healthy,” McNamara said. “We don’t want you to get sick. And we don’t want you to infect others.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order is in effect through April 7. Given the rise of COVID-19 cases in Illinois over the last week, an extension of that order is likely.
As of this report, there are 16 cases of the COVID-19 in northern Illinois, a region that includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties.