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Winnebago County COVID-19 positivity rate at 10.1%

The surge comes right as residents get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. Something that Dr. Martell says could be risky if you’re not vaccinated.
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 8:59 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Winnebago County leads in COVID-19 cases compared to surrounding counties and now health experts warn of the dangers for the unvaccinated population as we approach Thanksgiving.

One hundred and twenty six people are in area hospitals with the virus, two of them are infants.

“We need to mask up, we need to wash up, we need to back up and we need to vax up,” said Dr. Sandra Martell, Winnebago County Public Health Administrator.

Winnebago County experiences a surge of COVID-19 cases with a positivity rate of 10.1%. But Dr. Martell says its’ no surprise.

“Today’s a perfect example, sunny and cold, we’ve moved indoors,” Martell said.

The surge comes right as residents get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. Something that Dr. Martell says could be risky if you’re not vaccinated.

“Only 13% of individuals who’ve been hospitalized have been fully vaccinated,” Martell said. “So the majority have been unvaccinated and we have to be clear about that, break through infections is not a reason to not vaccinate.”

Winnebago County Board Chairman Joseph Chiarelli is the perfect example - fully vaccinated, Chiarelli had a break through case. Now he pleads with the community to stay safe this holiday.

“Please, take his words to heart, be vigilant, being vigilant is wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, being vigilant is making sure that if you’re able that you get the vaccine, so certainly our thoughts and prayers are with the Chairman,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

With only 61.4% of Winnebago County residents vaccinated, health experts worry low vaccination rates could be the reason for the surge.

“The public can do its’ part by getting the vaccine,” said Dr. Stephen Bartlett, Chief Medical Officer at OSF Healthcare. “The vaccine works, and I know the vaccine has become an enormously controversial topic and one of the beauties of the United States is that we will defend to the death your right to express your opinion. We even defend to the death your right to be wrong, and to not get the vaccine is wrong.”

Dr. Martell says if you are 18 years and older you do qualify for the booster shot. If you had Moderna or Pfizer, the booster is recommended six months after your last shot. If you had the J&J vaccine, it’s recommended two months after your last shot.

Booster shots are available at pharmacies all across the Stateline. Dr. Martell says all you need to do is bring your vaccination card and the whole process shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.

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