Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Ages well represented in local COVID-19 cases

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD – Positive cases of COVID-19 have been seen in just about every Winnebago County age group.

Children as young as 10 to people older than 80 have tested positive in the county since the pandemic began last month.

“It is not discriminating based on age,” Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell said.

There have been five cases in the 10-19 age group and 19 positive tests among those 20-29. Among people 30-39, there have been 15 cases, while 20 people between 40-49 have tested positive. There’ve been 23 cases in the 50-59 age group, 17 among people 60-69; 10 among those 70-79, and five infections among those 80 and older.

The disease is most serious among the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, hypertension and diabetes the most common.

As of this report, 1,500 people in Winnebago County have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 843 were negative and 544 are waiting for results. Seven people have died.

About 105,000 tests have been administered in Illinois, en route to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s goal of testing 10,000 people a day. Difficulties dialing in newly purchased testing equipment has slowed that goal, however. As of Monday, the state has just reached 8,000 daily tests. Rapid testing has also begun at Physicians Immediate Care clinics and those results will be calculated in the state’s numbers.

Breaking the county’s cases down by race, 50% have been white or non-Hispanic; 25% black; 20% Hispanic; 3% unknown; and 2% Asian.

Coronavirus has moved quickly in some major population centers, infecting thousands in dense ethnic neighborhoods where multigenerational households are common. Experts in Chicago believe the outbreak there likely started in February, when an infected person with mild symptoms exposed people at a funeral, dinner and birthday party, resulting in 16 positive cases of COVID-19 and three deaths in the same family.

There hasn’t been a surge in Winnebago County although Martell said the virus moves the same here as everywhere else.

“It doesn’t stay in one house,” she said. “This disease has traveled. We know that. Many of the individuals are associated with what we call community transfer. They weren’t in initial contact with a known case.”

That’s where contact tracing has come in. When someone tests positive, identifying  where they may have picked up the virus and who they may have infected is the key to preventing further spread.

“Every time we reach out to those families (we) identify who they’ve been contact with–where did they go, where did they shop, who do they work with, who do they hang with on the weekends?” Martell said. “Our cases have been extremely cooperative.”

Statewide, a total of 22,025 people have now tested positive for COVID-19, and 794 have died. The virus has now been confirmed in 87 of Illinois’ 102 counties.

There may be hundreds of thousands across the country who have already had the disease and recovered without knowing they’d been infected or believed they had a cold or the flu. They also may have unknowingly infected others.

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