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Health Department urges staying home as COVID-19 infections quadruple

WAUKEGAN --áThe Lake County Health Department is urging the public to avoid social gatherings and stay home as much as possible to slow the rapid resurgence of COVID-19.

“In just one month, our rate of new cases has quadrupled in Lake County, and hospitalizations are increasing back to where they were in the spring,” said Mark Pfister, executive director at the Lake County Health Department. “Indoor gatherings, with people from different households coming together, are a high-risk activity when so many people are currently infected with COVID-19. At this time, we recommend strictly limiting indoor gatherings to members of your own household."

On Oct. 15, the seven-day rolling average daily incidence rate, or new case rate, in Lake County was about 20 cases per day per 100,000 residents. As of Nov. 15, Lake County’s incidence rate was over 80 cases per day per 100,000, a four-fold increase, and there are no signs of rates slowing.

“At the current exponential rate of new infections in Lake County, our testing and contact tracing capacity is at its limit,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, medical epidemiologist for the Health Department. “Our hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed. The virus has made its way back into long-term care facilities because infections are so rampant in the community. We need the public’s help to avoid situations where the virus can spread. That is the only way we will get this surge of cases under control.”

The Health Department urges people to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19. Choose virtual gatherings over in-person get-togethers. When you do go out for groceries or other essential errands, follow the 3 Ws to protect yourself and others:

• Wear a mask over your mouth and nose. This helps limit respiratory droplets from spreading through the air to others. A mask also offers some protection for the person wearing the mask.

• Wash your hands often using soap and water or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, which can introduce the virus into your body.

• Watch your distance by keeping at least 6 feet between yourself and others at all times, even when you are wearing a mask. This reduces the likelihood of respiratory droplets being shared between people.

“As difficult as it is, please prioritize the health of your loved ones and help us address this worsening situation in our community,” Pfister said. “Adapt your plans. While it is difficult to say no to the holiday traditions that we hold dear, choosing phone or video chat options are the best way to guarantee your safety and protect your loved ones. Postponing or adapting events and gatherings now will slow down the spread of the coronavirus and save lives this fall and winter.”

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