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COVID-19: Rosecrance, two more nursing homes now local areas of concern

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD – Three more congregate sites have been added to the local COVID-19 areas of concern list, Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell reported Thursday.

The Atrium and Lincolnshire Place, two assisted-living facilities that specialize in memory care, along with Rosecrance, have now seen cases of coronavirus disease.

“They have self-identified and have also notified their staff and residents of the communities,” Martell said. “That is a requirement by the Illinois Department of Public Health.”

To date, 155 of Winnebago County’s 786 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been in congregate settings. Besides the ones added Wednesday, the facilities are Alden Alma Nelson Manor, Amberwood Care Centre, Anam Care, East Bank Center, Peterson Meadows, River Bluff Nursing Home, and Robert Webb Terrace.

Forest City Rehab & Nursing, Goldie B. Floberg Center, Milestone, Rockford Rescue Mission, Van Matre Rehabilitation Hospital and the Winnebago County Jail are also areas of concern.

“This is similar to what we are seeing throughout the state,” Martell said. “Those congregate settings are at the highest risk for outbreak. So when we identify, we are quickly moving to test the staff and put enhanced monitoring around the patients and/or the residents, depending on the setting, so we can quickly identify any individual who becomes symptomatic and get them tested and get them into the right level of care. ”

Two cases of COVID-19 associated with a single location is considered an outbreak.

Martell also reported four additional COVID-related deaths in Winnebago County Wednesday, bringing the number of fatalities to 26, and that 172 people have recovered from the disease.

“(It) represents about 22% of our positives cases,” Martell said, referring to documented recoveries, adding that reporting them takes longer than reporting new tests.

“We actually follow those through,” she said. “A person, day one, when their test comes back positive, may be fine and recovering at home. Day five may require hospitalization and then (they) may require an extended stay in the hospital beyond. So, we are constantly in contact about when that individual is being discharged. When did they become asymptomatic? When did they return and were fully recovered? So, it’s not just a simple 21-, 30-day count and (it’s) done. Some days you may see no change in the number of recovered, and other days you may see more recovered. ”

There were 2,641 new cases of COVID-19 and 138 additional deaths, 107 of which occurred in Cook County, reported statewide Wednesday. Deaths in Cook County included 19 people in their 60s, 28 people in their 70s, 24 people in their 80s, 23 people in their 90s and one person older than 100.

Illinois is currently in Phase 2 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase “Restore Illinois” plan. Martell said Winnebago County is on track now to move into Phase 3.  But whether the county is ready May 29 will depend on whether the coronavirus infection rate is 20% or lower and how many people are hospitalized.

“If you look at our positivity rate, we are were able to preserve our hospital capacity,” she said. “Our positivity rate has been hovering around 16, 17%, so we are below the 20%, and there hasn’t been a significant rise in it.”

But because Winnebago County’s raw data shows an increase in new cases, there’s little margin for error. In other words, Martell said, now is not the time to start disregarding social-distancing guidelines.

“That’s why we are putting that extra message out there,” she said. “This is a marathon with short spurts in between. We’ve really got to toe the line over the next couple weeks. If our infection rate goes up, and we have a blip like we did in April, the concern is that we would fall out of the metric.”

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