Region 9 COVID-19 Hot Spots: Workplace, Restaurants Top New List

Amie Schaenzer
·5 min read

LAKE AND MCHENRY COUNTIES —New public health data released Friday, which is meant to shed a light on where people infected by COVID-19 in the past month may have contracted the virus, shows a workplace and restaurants and bars as the most likely spots to contract the disease in Lake and Mchenry counties.

The top "exposure locations" show 609 reports of COVID-19 patients being in a workplace in the two weeks before contracting the virus while 568 reported going to a restaurant during that same time frame. Meanwhile, the top places where outbreaks have occurred since July 1 in Lake and McHenry counties include community events and schools. There have been five outbreaks tied to community events and four outbreaks at schools, according to the IDPH.

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The release of the new public health data came on a day that Illinois broke another record for new cases statewide and surpassed the 10,000-mark for the first time. Deaths are also on the rise. Meanwhile, average hospitalizations have more than doubled over the past month, from an average of 1,500 in October to 3,300 now-a number that Pritzker has called "unsustainable."

"We are definitely on the verge where it could go exponential," Pritzker said Friday. "If it goes exponential we would be in a world of a hurt."

Pritzker said he's prepared to up restrictions across the state. But it's too early to say, the extent of that shutdown and if it would mirror the spring stay at home order or a stepped-up version of recent tiered mitigations. But it could be coming as early as next week, he said.

“It’s the last thing I want to do but I’m ready to do it,” he said. “Because we can’t make these numbers flatten and go back down since there is no vaccine or medication. The only way that science shows us how to do that is by having less interaction. And that means cutting off people’s ability to interact in certain places.”

In an effort to better educate the public on the top spots for COVID-19 transmission, and coming off the heels of weeks when restaurants across the state have blatantly refused to stop indoor service despite the governor's mandate to do so and the Illinois State High School Association's move to ignore Pritzker's order to push basketball to the spring, the new exposure and outbreak data is meant to help residents “design their day to day” to lessen the risk of contracting the virus.

The data is culled from information provided by contact tracers investigating COVID-19 cases. When compiling outbreak information, local health departments investigate outbreaks by identifying clusters from individual case investigations. This information is based on reported locations visited during patients' 14-day exposure period. Meanwhile, the exposure data includes locations provided by patients about where exposures may have occurred.

Statewide, the top exposure locations, according to the IDPH, are:

  1. Restaurant/bar: 3,877 or 10.7 percent

  2. Schools: 3,796 or 10.5 percent

  3. Workplace other than office: 3,694 or 10.3 percent

  4. Hospital or clinic: 3,107 or 8.63 percent

  5. Business or retail: 3,081 or 8.51 percent

In Lake and McHenry counties, here is a look at the breakdown for exposure locations:

  1. Workplace, other than office: 609 or 12.4 percent of total exposure locations

  2. Restaurant or bar: 568 or 11.6 percent

  3. Business or retail: 481 or 9.8 percent

  4. Grocery store: 334 or 6.81 percent

  5. Hospital or clinic: 315 or 6.42 percent

The newly-released school data shows 478 of 5,478 schools in the state have reported potential COVID-19 exposures in the past 30 days, and 10 schools have had outbreaks. You can find out where exposures and outbreaks are occurring within Chicago-area schools, and across Illinois, on the website.

Of the state's 10 outbreaks, three occurred in McHenry County in the past 30 days. Those occurred at Lundahl Middle School and included five t0 10 cases involving staff and students, Prairie Ridge High School where five to 10 staff and students reported contracting the virus and Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center where five to 10 staffers caught COVID-19.

The new data shows that since July 1, top outbreaks across Illinois occurred here:

  1. Factory/manufacturer: 52 or 11.2 percent of outbreaks

  2. Community event: 34 or 7.73 percent

  3. Church/temple: 31 or 7.05 percent

  4. College/University: 31 or 7.06

  5. Correctional Facility: 27 or 6.14 percent

In Region 9, the most outbreaks occurred at:

  1. Community events: 5 or 15.2 percent of outbreaks

  2. Public schools: 4 or 12.1 percent

  3. Factory or manufacturer: 3 or 9.09 percent

  4. Restaurant: 3 or 9.09 percent

  5. Church/Temple/Religious Location: 2 or 6.06 percent

The new detailed state health data or "contract tracing metrics" can be found on the IDPH website.

Meanwhile, state health officials pleaded again with the public to take extra precautions to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19. And cases will likely continue to spike, they also urged those who test positive for the virus to be sure to provide an accurate phone number when taking a COVID-19 test. This will ensure contact tracers will be able to reach them and get and provide information on how to keep them, and others, safe from further spread.

But as we head into the winter holidays in the coming weeks, state health officials say the outlook is grim.

"We prepared in every way of a fall surge but the idea of it moving this quickly, it’s frightening," Pritzker said. "I can’t tell you what next week or the week after will look like."

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This article originally appeared on the Grayslake Patch