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July 24, 2020

Whiteside County Health Department Statement on the Current COVID-19 Situation and What the Public Can Do

July 23, 2020 - The Whiteside County Health Department would like to clarify some potential reasons we may be seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Whiteside County and what actions we are asking the public to take to protect themselves and others. The Whiteside County Health Department is not attributing the increase in cases in Whiteside County to specific exposures at any location under investigation. Instead, the increase is likely the result of community spread as people get together more frequently, in larger groups, and for longer periods of time.

Additional factors that may be playing a role in greater numbers of cases include: spikes in cases among neighboring states, increased summer travel, gatherings during 4th of July weekend, and the general loosening of restrictions during Restore Illinois Phase 4, which has led to more individuals working in person instead of remotely and an increase in events and gatherings.

Successful public health interventions can be complicated, and COVID-19 is no different. Stopping or slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires a multilayered approach with everyone working together. We are not perfect. We are not asking for perfection. We just ask everyone to do as much as they can as often as they can. If not to protect yourself, to protect the most vulnerable around us. This  includes:

  • Staying Home if you have any symptom associated with COVID-19 that cannot be explained by a previously diagnosed condition.
    • Symptoms may be milder early on in a person's infection, which is also when they are most infectious. Younger and/or healthier people tend to have milder symptoms, if they develop symptoms at all.
  • Physically Distance and Mask around those you do not live with.
    • IDPH does not consider physically distancing a replacement for masking, nor does IDPH consider masking a replacement for staying 6 feet away from others.
    • This includes when in public, at private events and even when visiting someone at their home or having guests at yours.
    • For those who cannot mask or physically distance, work to find other ways to reduce your exposure to others and their exposure to you.
  • Take advantage of low-contact options when possible.
    • Businesses and restaurants are working hard to protect you by implementing protective measures and alternative arrangements such as curbside pickup and delivery. Consider mixing these options into your routine, especially if you have been around a lot of different  people recently.
  • Reduce your chance of spreading COVID-19 by spreading out social or close-contact events.
    • COVID-19 is spread by close contact. Individuals can potentially spread the virus up to 2 days before they realize they are ill. Try to keep 2-3 days between gatherings, especially if there will be a lot of close contact or attendees.
    • Consider identifying a specific, small group of people and limit your contact to those in this group.
  • Evaluate your surroundings. If you do not feel comfortable, try to find other options.
  • Work with Public Health officials as they work to contact trace, isolate and quarantine.
  • If you are at high risk for developing serious illness related to COVID-19, or live or work with someone at high risk, you may need to work harder to ensure you and those around you are following these recommendations.

Why We Issue Specific Releases:

A public release was issued for the Whiskey Barrel Saloon, Sterling Moose Family Center and Johnnie's Tap because there was an extended potential for exposure for some individuals, they are places individuals tend to congregate for longer periods of time, and because they are open to the public, it can be difficult for someone to  identify all of their close  contacts.

In general, there is no more risk of contracting COVID-19 at a bar or restaurant that is following IDPH guidance on physical distancing and masking than you have at your workplace, a party at someone's home, a wedding, a reunion, or a funeral. Those situations differ from the exposures we announced because an individual at work or at an event who tests positive should be better able to name their contacts. In those situations, potential contacts will be notified, so there is no need for a public release, even though the risk of transmission may be higher because fewer precautions tend to be taken in private settings.

Finally, the Whiteside County Health Department would like to reiterate that COVID-19 is considered community spread throughout the United States. Anytime individuals gather, there is a risk of spread. This risk increases with the more people we see and the more often we get together. To help reduce this risk and slow the spread of COVID-19, we are asking everyone to do as much as they can, as often as they can. We are all in this together, and together, we can prevail.

If you have questions please contact the IDPH COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or reach out to us.

Additional information is also available on the Illinois's COVID-19 and CDC COVID-19 websites.

 

Published in Fulton News

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