Healthcare Professionals Encourage Residents To Stay Up-To-Date On Immunizations

While the world waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, doctors are encouraging residents to catch up on their other immunizations. 

CREDIT FLICKR USER NIAID / (CC X 2.0)

Dr. Tony Leazzo, Chairman of Family Practice at Delnor Hospital explains, “In the fall time, when we’re starting to get into the cold and flu [season], people like to go out and work garden, brush up their landscaping, and if you’ve got open cuts and things like that, you can actually leave yourself more susceptible to tetanus at that point.” 

WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike also reminds residents that the flu sickens millions of Americans every year:

“This season more than ever, it is critical that Illinoisans get our flu shots. Flu and COVID-19 each can cause serious respiratory illness and co-infection could possibly lead to more severe illnesses, hospitalization, and even death.  While a vaccine for COVID-19 is still in development, a vaccine for flu already exists and is your best protection against flu.  The choice is yours, but I urge you to not risk co-infection of two potentially deadly viruses.”

A press release from the state Department of Public Health has more information.

Rockford/DeKalb Region On The Verge Of More Restrictions

This is a joint news release issued by the Northern Illinois Rockford Region Public Information Officers (NIR-PIO). NIR-PIO serves Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago Counties.

REGIONAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS CAUTION RESIDENTS THAT REGION MUST ACT NOW TO PREVENT WARNING FOR COVID-19

Northern Illinois Rockford Region (Region 1) – The Northern Illinois Rockford Region (Region 1) is close to being in warning level for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

• The positivity rate for Region 1 has been steadily increasing

• As of 09/20/2020, Region 1 positivity rate is 7.5%

• A positivity rate of 8% for three consecutive days results in a warning level for COVID-19

If Region 1 goes into warning level, the Governor’s Office will mandate additional prevention strategies in the region to protect the public health. Examples include:

• Early closures and limited hours for bars, restaurants, gaming facilities, and casinos

• Further restrictions on indoor services and dining

• Reducing the number of guests for social gatherings

The Local Health Departments (LHDs) want our communities to move forward toward recovery and not have to return to stricter measures to prevent further rise in community spread of COVID-19 that is driving the increase in positivity rate. The LHDs cannot do this on our own. Each of us has a role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Today, the LHDs ask the community to take these three additional steps to prevent Region 1 from going into warning:

1. GET A COVID-19 TEST. Testing is available at no cost for anyone in the community. You may not have symptoms, but you may be spreading COVID-19. For testing locations, contact your local health department or go to: htps://www.dph.illinois.gov/testing

2. LIMIT CONTACTS. Identify a close group of contacts with whom you mingle and keep to that limited group. If your children are in school, keep the playdates to those that are in their class.

3. LEAVE. Be intentional about your action and activities. Leave a place where guidelines are not being followed, people are not masking or social distancing, or the gathering is too large.

The LHDs continue to remind the community that following these steps is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

• WEAR A FACE MASK: Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth covering

• WATCH YOUR DISTANCE: Keep at least 6 feet apart from others

• WASH YOUR HANDS: Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds

Together, we can avoid going into warning and additional mandated restrictions. For more information on Illinois regional metrics go to: htps://www.dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics?regionID=1

For general questions about COVID-19, call the IDPH hotline at 1-800-889-3931

Illinois Provides $156 Million in Grants to 4,686 Child Care and Early Childhood Providers

A press release from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office has details:

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced that over $156 million in BIG funding has been provided to 4,686 child care providers across Illinois facing challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first round of funding helped child care centers and homes in 95 counties across the state. Forty-seven percent of the grant funds were awarded to childcare programs located in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“Anyone who knows anything about what it takes to raise a family knows that without quality, affordable child care, there is no economic opportunity for working parents, and especially working mothers. That’s why – even in these incredibly difficult economic times – Illinois directed federal pandemic response dollars to helping child care providers operate in safer, smaller group sizes without needing to impose large tuition increases on families,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “To date, I’m proud to say that over half of that funding has already been distributed – including over $65,000 to Christian Child Care. Remaining on track to become the best state in the nation to raise young children is achievable, even in these difficult times. Holding ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to our youngest children is vital to strengthening the social and economic fabric of our state and our nation.”

Continue reading

Applications are available here.

Statewide Case Numbers Update

A DeKalb County infant is among the latest reported COVID-19 deaths in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported more than 2-thousand new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease in the state, including 20 additional deaths. After a C-D-C review, the DeKalb County Health Department confirmed Friday the death of an infant younger than one. The infant was previously reported as a positive case. The department says the child’s identity is not being released to protect the privacy of the family.

coronavirus.illinois.gov

A press release from the State Department of Public Health has more information on new cases and deaths:

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today [September 18] reported 2,120 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 20 additional confirmed deaths.

• Cook County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 60s, 2 females 70s, 1 male 80s
• DeKalb County: 1 infant
• DuPage County: 1 male 40s
• Edgar County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s
• Franklin County: 1 male 50s
• Lake County: 1 male 80s
• McHenry County: 1 male 60s
• St. Clair County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
• Tazewell County: 1 female 30s, 1 female 80s
• Will County: 1 male 70s
• Williamson County: 1 female 80s, 2 females 90s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 270,327 cases, including 8,411 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.  The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from September 11 – September 17 is 3.6%.  Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 61,918 specimens for a total of 4,982,856.  As of last night, 1,481 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19.  Of those, 329 patients were in the ICU and 149 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.  

Free Temporary Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing in DeKalb County: September 19 & 20

This weekend (Saturday, September 19 and Sunday, September 20) free COVID-19 testing will be available at the DeKalb County Health Department parking lot.

Read details from a county health department press release:

One of the ways to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus is to have increased testing in the community. In addition to the locations that currently offer testing in DeKalb County, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and DeKalb County Health Department (DCHD) will be sponsoring a free temporary drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing site at the DCHD parking lot located at 2550 N. Annie Glidden Rd. from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the following days:

Saturday, September 19

Sunday, September 20

There is no cost for testing and anyone can be tested. You don’t have to have symptoms or be sick. The test consists of a simple nasal swab. If you have health insurance, we ask that you bring your insurance card; however, all will be tested regardless of healthcare coverage. You will be called (by the testing provider) with your results within 4-7 days.

DCHD will also be distributing Community Kits to each person who is tested. The free community kits include cloth masks, thermometer, tissue, and antibacterial hand wipes.

For additional testing locations, visit the IDPH website at https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/covid-19-testing-sites

For more information about COVID-19, and the latest updates and guidance, please visit the following websites:

• https://health.dekalbcounty.org/coronavirus/

• https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

• https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus

Gov. Pritzker Maintains School Sports Postponement

Sean Crawford reports:

Amid growing calls to allow contact sports to resume this fall, Illinois’ governor Tuesday appeared to double down on postponement of the seasons.

J.B. Pritzker said it’s not a political decision. 

“I know that there are people who would like me simply to make a political decision to allow people to endanger themselves,” he told reporters.

Sports like football, volleyball and boys’ soccer has been pushed to a possible spring schedule due to COVID-19.  Several other Midwest states have made decisions to let the games go on.

“And if they’ve decided to endanger children and families in those states, by allowing certain contact sports to take place, that’s their decision. That’s not something that’s good for the families…the children of Illinois,” Pritzker said.

“Look, I’m not willing to sacrifice people’s lives or their health.  Neither the children nor their parents who would be affected also.”

The governor said he will continue to make decisions based on advice from doctors and researchers.  A few fall sports, such as cross country and tennis, are currently allowed, even though some of the seasons have been shortened. 

There have been protests and rallies across the state in recent days pushing for the restrictions on fall sports to be lifted.

The Illinois High School Association announced last week that it sent a letter to the governor asking to resume control over determining the resumption of IHSA sports and activities. 

40 New COVID Cases In Winnebago County; Rising Positivity Rate

WNIJ’s Chase Cavanaugh reports:

The Winnebago County Health Department reported scores of new cases of COVID-19 at a press conference Monday. 

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said a lot of the transmission is due to Labor Day weekend activities. The ages of those infected vary.

“And those ages are anywhere from two years to 68,” she said. “This brings our total to 4,794 cases.” 

Martell is also worried about an increasing positivity rate.

“We are reporting a positivity rate of 6.8%. And remember, we are trying to keep below that 7%, so we need to double down on our prevention efforts.”

Martell said measures to prevent further spread, such as face coverings and social distancing, are necessary to keep schools and workplaces open.

NIU Goes Remote For Undergrads

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Below is an important update that I sent to students this afternoon about the timely actions we need to take to address the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases we’ve seen, especially among our off-campus, undergraduate students. Effective immediately, we are temporarily moving undergraduate courses online and expect all students who reside on campus, and undergraduates who live in DeKalb County, to limit in-person activities and interactions until Sept. 28.

This immediate action is similar to what other universities recently had to implement. By doing this now, when our positivity rates are lower and manageable, we have more opportunity to stop the spread of the virus before things escalate further.

In view of these changes, student-facing offices might want to modify the fraction of services offered in person and shift more toward being virtual during this period. Supervisors should work with their divisional leadership to make those determinations.

I’m reminded on this 19th anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, that when we come together to address a crisis and make caring for others a priority, we are at our strongest. I appreciate everything you are doing to follow public health guidelines and to support our students in these challenging times.

Together Forward,

Lisa C. Freeman

Message sent to students

Dear Students,

I’m writing today to inform you of several, important developments in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our Huskies. Effective immediately, we are temporarily moving undergraduate courses online and expect all students who reside on campus, and undergraduates who live in DeKalb County, to limit in-person activities and interactions until Monday, Sept. 28. It’s imperative that you read this entire email so that you understand the latest information and expectations as an NIU student.

Why is Action Necessary?

More than 120 students are currently positive for COVID-19, and more are currently quarantining due to exposure and/or pending test results. Through contact tracing, we have determined that the vast majority of student cases involve those who live off-campus or who attended off-campus gatherings where masks were not worn and physical distancing was not respected. We are also aware that some students are not fully cooperating with health officials and following guidelines on reporting symptoms and potential exposure.

These careless and unacceptable activities have led to a substantial increase in the overall positivity rate for DeKalb County and put our entire community at risk. We continue to work closely with our partners at the DeKalb County Health Department, and together determined that we need to take immediate and significant action to reduce opportunities for further spread. 

Limiting In-Person Activities & Interactions

Effective immediately, the university expects all students who live on campus, and undergraduates who reside in DeKalb or the county, to strictly limit their in-person interactions to only those that are essential such as obtaining meals and groceries, seeking medical care or attending work. It also means absolutely avoiding gatherings or parties, indoors or out.

I know that this is very frustrating, especially for those students who have been diligently following the rules and prioritizing the health of fellow Huskies. By taking bold measures and limiting exposure now, however, we have the best opportunity to stop these trends.

Changes in Course Delivery

Undergraduate courses will be delivered online beginning Monday, Sept. 14, through Friday, Sept. 25. A few exceptions may be granted by the Provost in response to a faculty member’s request. Please check your Blackboard course site after noon Sunday, Sept. 13, to see if your course is one of the exceptions. Our intention at this time is for in-person classes to resume Monday, Sept. 28.

On and Off-Campus/DeKalb Housing Restrictions

On-campus students are required to stay in their residence hall room as much as possible for the next two weeks. Students can leave their residences to:

•             Pick up meals from dining facilities or the Holmes Student Center

•             Pick up to-go meals from local establishments

•             Pick up deliveries (grocery and restaurant deliveries)

•             Spend time outdoors doing individual activities while masked

•             Use university Wi-Fi, computer labs or the Founders Memorial Library

•             Utilize the Student Health Center and Counseling and Consultation Services

•             Take care of essential errands (grocery store, medical appointments, getting a flu shot)

•             Attend work (both on- and off-campus) after getting approval from supervisors

•             Participate in off-campus internships or clinicals organized by a student’s college

•             Manage child care responsibilities

Undergraduate students who live off-campus in DeKalb County (apartments, houses or fraternity and sorority houses) should stay in their respective locations and also follow the above guidance for limiting in-person activities/interactions to those that are essential. 

University Events and Student Organizations

All planned, in-person events have been canceled for the next two weeks, but virtual events will continue as scheduled. Student organizations are not to meet in person over the next two weeks.

Gatherings/Parties

I cannot emphasize enough that the points of origin for the spread of COVID-19 at NIU are parties and gatherings, especially ones where participants have failed to wear masks and physically distance. It is because of these activities that we now must take this two-week pause.

I want to be clear that ALL student gatherings and parties of any size, whether on campus or off in the DeKalb area, are strictly prohibited during these two weeks. This includes residence hall common areas (such as lobbies, lounges and hallways), Greek housing and all outdoor spaces (parking lots, streets and lagoon areas).

Guests & Parking

All guests of students are prohibited from campus, indoors and outdoors, weekdays and weekends. Guests are expected to voluntarily abide and comply with requests to leave; those who do not can be cited for trespassing.

Additional on-campus parking restrictions have been put in place for after 5 p.m. weekdays and on weekends.

Surveillance Testing

The university will continue to do surveillance testing during this time. Students who have been scheduled to participate must come to their appointments.

Students Currently Isolating/Quarantining or Recovered

Students who are currently under orders by the DeKalb County Health Department to quarantine or isolate must continue to do so as directed. Students who have previously tested positive and recovered from COVID-19 are also expected to abide by requirements outlined in this letter.

NIU Helpline and DeKalb County Health Department

We need all students to cooperate in an open and honest manner with NIU and public health officials about testing, tracking and tracing efforts. All students who have been exposed, have symptoms or test positive MUST notify the NIU Helpline (815-753-0444), respond to any calls from state or local health departments and follow guidance of public health officials.

Responsibility & Accountability

Every Huskie is expected to take very simple, responsible measures to keep one another safe. When Huskies choose otherwise, such as hosting and participating in gatherings, breaking quarantines/ isolations or failing to cooperate with public health officials, we must hold one another accountable and take immediate action. We have begun taking measures with individuals and student organizations, including our Greek system, for these types of actions that have put the health and safety of our community at risk, and will continue to do so moving forward. Failure to comply with the instructions in this letter will result in disciplinary measures that can range from written warnings and loss of university privileges to semester-long suspensions and, if necessary, permanent removal from the university.

Together Forward

The actions we’re taking might seem harsh and too challenging, but they are precedented by other universities and provide students and NIU the necessary time and precautions to be able to prevent an outbreak. I have confidence that if you work together as Huskies, and take this situation and each other’s well-being seriously, that we will see improvement and can resume our semester plans. Your fellow Huskies and the DeKalb community are counting on you.

We will provide you with a status update prior to our intended return on Sept. 28.

Together Forward,

Lisa C. Freeman

President

DeKalb County Announced At Warning Level For COVID-19

DeKalb County was announced at a warning level for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) based on the significant increase in the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and increase in positivity rate for the county.


Based on the regional metrics established by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), DeKalb County has changed from blue to orange on the County Level Risk Metrics Map. An orange designation indicates the presence of warning signs related to increased COVID-19 risk.


Eight different indicators are used to determine a county’s designation. If two or more indicators are trending unfavorably, the county is designated as orange. An increase in the indicators of case rates and test positivity rate are driving the move to the ‘orange’ designation for DeKalb County:


• DeKalb County is currently at 122 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people- up from 57 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 the week before. The target established by the state is 50 cases per 100,000 people.


• Our test positivity rate is 8.4% for DeKalb County for last week – up from 4.9% the week before. The target is less than or equal to 8%.


Like other Counties that include a university, the return of the students to campus has resulted in a spike in the number of positive cases. This spike in cases has subsequently resulted in an adverse impact to our County’s positivity rate. Through case investigation, DCHD has determined that a large majority of the cases are specifically linked to large gatherings/parties that have taken place on or around campus.

Since March, Northern Illinois University (NIU) has been working collaboratively with DCHD to plan for the safe return of students this Fall. The primary goal was to proactively put measures in place in order to minimize spread of the virus. NIU has remained committed to enforcing mitigation
efforts in order to protect the community.

Today, NIU will be releasing additional mitigation efforts that have been jointly discussed among DCHD and NIU staff. DCHD and NIU will continue to work together to adopt additional mitigation efforts. DCHD reminds that aside from the university setting it takes all of our community to decrease the number of cases, taking personal accountability in following the 3 W’s: wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands. Decisions we make about personal gatherings and parties, including those with extended family members, make a significant impact in mitigating or accelerating the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

To stay informed about the metrics and a map of each county’s status, visit the IDPH website at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics
For more information about coronavirus (COVID-19), and the latest updates and guidance, please visit the following websites:
https://health.dekalbcounty.org/coronavirus/
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-zlist/coronavirus
Community members and agencies can email questions to COVID19@dekalbcounty.org .

COVID-19 Investigation at Belvidere FCA Turns Up Results

WNIJ’s Juanpable Ramirez-Franco reports:

There’s new information known about COVID-19 cases associated with the Fiat Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere. 

Health officials from the Boone and Winnebago county health departments have been working closely with Fiat Chrysler to identify cases of COVID-19 at the Belvidere plant. The goal is to determine whether cases among workers were though community spread, or if there was an outbreak within the plant itself.

The Boone County Health Department says some of the steps taken include: conference calls with FCA management, locating where positive cases reside, contact tracing of those cases and close contacts, and a site visit to the plant to review safety plans. 

Based on the latest information available, health officials believe cases that occurred at the plant were the result of community spread. Company officials will continue to partner with local health authorities to monitor any positive cases among employees.