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Several counties in the region reach high COVID-19 infection risk

If you don’t know someone currently battling COVID-19, you probably will soon.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:28 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - It’s a battle we’ve fought for more than two years, one that OSF Saint Anthony Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Bartlett says is far from over.

“If you were to have this interview in two weeks, you’d see that the death rate has gone up again,” said Bartlett.

Winnebago County is one of several counties in the stateline reaching a concerning number of Omicron COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. In fact, Dr. Bartlett says that number is up 69%, and it is just starting.

“The hospitalization rate is up 37%,” said Bartlett “But, the vaccination rate in Winnebago County is less than the U.S. rate.”

Bartlett says the vaccine is the best weapon we have against the virus. He urges the nearly 45% of people who are not vaccinated, to use that weapon. But for those who already got their shots, Bartlett says to mask up.

“I know it’s no fun wearing a mask at an event like your kids graduation, but it really makes a lot of sense right now,” said Bartlett.

And while Ogle County sits at a Medium Community Risk, Health Department Administrator Kyle Auman isn’t backing down his message. With many upcoming events in the region, he says masking, social distancing and hand washing are how Ogle County can prevent from falling into a high risk category.

“Although there are no mask mandates for the general population right now, we do recommend,” said Aumun.

Bartlett says if you aren’t vaccinated, it not only raises your chance of getting the COVID-19 Omicron Variant, but also increases your risk of getting deathly ill from it.

“We have to adjust to the fact that there’s going to be surges that come and go,” said Bartlett. “The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon.”

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