NORTHERN ILLINOIS — The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday morning that while COVID-19 cases are up in the region, no new mandates are currently being considered by the state.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during a virtual news conference that at this point, with the vaccine available for a year, the state thought it would be in a “different place” when it came to COVID infections.
“We have been through that period of stay at home, closed facilities,” she said.
And although COVID cases are on the rise in Region 1 – which includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties – no new lockdown is in the plans.
But she did encourage people who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated, as it is the best weapon against COVID. She also said to continue to wear masks in public, as currently mandated by the state, keep safe social distances and wash hands regularly.
She said that cases in this region are rising at an “alarming rate,” and hospitals are filling up with people suffering the effects of COVID-19.
“This is setting up to be a very deadly COVID Christmas and New Year,” she said.
She urged the public to use walk-in clinics and to see their primary care providers in non-emergency cases to help ease the flood of people in area hospitals.
The rise in cases is not only affecting area hospitals and schools, but also the local economy.
“Theis virus is devastating the economic stability” of the region, Ezike said.
John Groh, director of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said COVID has negatively impacted hospitality and arts in the region. He said even the Rockford IceHogs hockey team has seen attendance tumble due to COVID.
“Many individuals simply won’t go out,” he said.
Ezike said that is something that the public needs to realize – the spike in COVID cases can severely harm the local economy. She said the best way to help stop that damage is to get the vaccine, the “strongest weapon” to rebuild economic stability in the region.