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Recent increases in new local COVID-19 cases has put Will County at a "warning level" for one of the metrics the state uses to monitor risk for spread of the novel virus.
As of the end of last week, Will County was reporting 65 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over a seven day period, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That's above the target of fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 people, meaning that the county is at increased risk.
Will County was meeting target levels for other metrics IDPH uses to measure risk, including number of deaths, test positivity rate, tests performed, emergency department visits for COVID-19-like symptoms, number of hospital admissions and intensive care unit bed availability.
If a county sees worsening numbers in two or more of these risk factors, it's considered to be at a "warning level" that could lead to the re-implementation of restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
Will County Health Department spokesman Steve Brandy said there has been "a lot of careless behavior since July 4" when it came to abiding by public health guidance.
"Eventually it catches up to you," Brandy said.
The Will County Health Department reported 241 new COVID-19 cases recorded between Saturday and Monday, or about 80 new cases for each day. In total, Will County has 8,715 confirmed cases and 339 deaths due to the disease as of Monday.
The county health department released a warning last week aiming to remind the public to remain cautious as positivity rates around the state have increased in recent weeks. The department specifically pointed to new cases among Frankfort residents who attended a party in Indiana, reportedly held as a substitute prom.
A health department investigation discovered that up to 270 people, high school-aged students and chaperones, attended the event.
"The information is out there, but many people are falling victim to denial about what is going on," Alpesh Patel, a county health department epidemiologist, said in a news release. "We must continue to follow the logical advice about preventing COVID-19 that has been there from that start."
The Will County Health Department has reported increases in COVID-19 cases among young people.
Back in mid-April, people age 10 to 19 represented about 1.3% of overall COVID-19 cases in Will County. As of late July, that number was up to about 7%, according to the health department.
People age 20 to 29 accounted for a little over 7% of COVID-19 cases in Will County as of mid-April. As of late July, residents in that age group made up about 18% of local cases.
Brandy said it was important for residents to understand the state has not fully reopened and that public life cannot resume to normalcy. That won't happen, he said, until a vaccine for COVID-19 was available, which likely won't happen until early next year.
"We got a long way to go," he said.
For more information on COVID-19 information and resources in Will County, visit willcountyhealth.org.