Submitted by Cory Law, ERC
June 26, 2020 – As Illinois begins to move into Phase 4, the Whiteside County Health Department reminds residents that COVID-19 is still active in our community and urges everyone to work together to protect each other. While rates of infection and deaths have declined in Illinois, we are seeing an increase in cases across the country. In addition, we have seen an increase in cases among younger individuals in their 20s and 30s. These individuals may not suffer severe illness from coronavirus, but any increase in the number of active cases increases the chance of spreading the disease to vulnerable populations. In the last seven days, 8 of the 13 cases in Whiteside have been under the age of 40.
Although several treatments and a vaccine under development look promising, it is important to remember there is currently no vaccine or approved treatment for COVID-19. Thus, the best way to prevent illness and protect your community is knowing how this virus spreads and taking precautions to avoid being exposed. Coronavirus is mainly thought to be spread between people who are in close contact–within 6 feet of each other. Coronavirus is mainly spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or sings. Some studies suggest that COVID-19 may also be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
To help protect our communities, Illinois has released Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidance for businesses and the CDC has released a Resuming Business Toolkit and Health and Safety Steps for Specific Occupations. Additionally, the CDC has released Recommendations for Daily Life including guidance specific for Running Essential Errands such as shopping, banking and getting gas, Personal and Social Activities, Using Transportation as well as recommendations for Social Distancing, using Cloth Face Coverings, and other everyday steps to prevent COVID-19.
General Guidance for Protecting Yourself and Others
- Monitor yourself for Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19, including temperature checks.
- If you have symptoms that cannot be explained by a preexisting condition or you have a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, stay home and contact your doctor and work supervisor.
- Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
- If you experience any Emergency Warning Signs, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face, seek emergency medical care immediately. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility and notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
- Maintain social/physical distancing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
- Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home: try to keep a minimum of 6 feet (about 2 arms lengths) from other people.
- Avoid large groups of people whenever possible.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they must go out in public, such as when going to the grocery store or picking up other necessities.
- Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
- The cloth face cover is meant to protect others, not you, in case you are infected. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Remember individuals wearing masks are Protecting You.
- If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, consider limiting in-person gatherings.
- Because coronavirus is mainly spread through close contact, consider limiting the number of individuals you encounter and/or how frequently you meet. This will reduce the number of individuals exposed and possibility of sustained transmission if a positive case attends a gathering.
- Consider choosing a small group of people and try to limit all in-person gatherings to only that group of friends or family.
- Try rotating groups: keep a week or more between gatherings with different people to minimize the number of people you or your friends may expose if someone develops symptoms. Remember, some individuals may be positive but never develop symptoms, and others can take up to 14 days after an exposure to become symptomatic.
- Remember, it is important not to become socially isolated during this time. Continue reaching out through calls, texts and social media to stay connected. Other ways to stay connected include online gaming and using technology to watch movies or play board games with friends while separated.
- Continue stricter protective measures if you are at high risk.
- If you are someone at high risk for developing complications related to COVID-19 or routinely interact or live with individuals at high risk, you should continue limiting your exposure until there is an effective treatment or vaccine.
If you have questions please contact the IDPH COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or reach out to us.