Local COVID-19 cases rise, experts say to bring gatherings outdoors

Fifty-five new cases reported Monday
Cases increase nationally and locally
Cases increase nationally and locally(WIFR)
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 9:22 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - COVID-19 continues to plague parts of the country, but cases are also increasing in Winnebago County and neighboring states. The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) reported 55 new cases Monday, and did not attribute the significant increase to more tests.

Health experts urge the community to be vigilant now more than ever.

“Our recovery is in our hands literally,” says WCHD Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell.

Neighboring states like Wisconsin saw three days straight of increased positive cases. While the stateline is not considered a hotspot, several states are taking a step backwards and shutting down again. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says doing that locally would be a difficult blow to the community.

“I think it would be devastating to those business owners, especially the small, locally owned business owners,” he says. “They went through something I hope we’ll never see again. And to ask them to do it twice I think would be incredibly difficult.”

Dr. Martell says it’s important to learn to coexist with the virus, as it’s likely to stick around until there is a treatment. She suggests not visiting current hotspots or hosting guests from those areas. If you do she says to self-quarantine for 14 days. If you choose to gather in groups there’s another bit of advice she offers.

“Move it outdoors. So if you’re planning to get together with family, move it outdoors. Planning to get together with a couple of friends, move it outdoors. Planning to dine out? Move it outdoors,” she says. She explained a recent study in Japan that estimated the risk of catching the virus is 20 times higher indoors than outside.

Without a vaccine or treatment there are only basic preventative measures to help, like hand washing, distancing and wearing a mask.

“We collectively have sacrificed,” explains McNamara. “Our businesses have sacrificed, our residents have sacrificed and our frontline workers have sacrificed. Please, do the simple things.”

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