By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – A local teen has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, officials announced Monday, March 23.
The diagnosis brings the number of confirmed COVID-19 in Winnebago County cases to six. The confirmation is the second in as many days locally. A patient in their 20s was announced Sunday.
So far, none of the local cases has been critical, and it is not known if any required a hospital stay. The first patient, a man in his 60s announced March 15, was diagnosed at Javon Bea Hospital before returning home to recover. He is the oldest of the six area patients.
A person in their 40s and two people in their 30s have also been confirmed in Winnebago County as having COVID-19. Their conditions are not known.
So far, 288 people have been tested in Winnebago County. There have been 132 negative tests while 150 are still pending.
Statewide, there are currently 1,285 cases in 31 counties, with Cook seeing about 73% of them. A dozen people have died, including three Cook County men announced Monday–two in their 80s and one in his 90s.
The majority of those who are infected with the coronavirus will experience flu-like symptoms and recover in several days. It is highly contagious, however, and can be critical for seniors and those with underlying conditions, which has already started to place extreme burdens on hospitals across the country.
Local leaders are prepared for that reality if it occurs in Winnebago County. They’ve been gearing up for the outbreak for weeks, working with state and federal health officials on how to stop the spread. One of the most effective ways to control COVID-19 is for people to stay home when possible and practice social distancing of at least six feet when in public.
And while the majority of citizens are adhering to those guidelines–those laid out in Gov. J.B. Pritzker stay-at-home executive order that runs through April 7– some people may be panning the situation. For them, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara has a strong message.
“If you are not taking this pandemic seriously, you are being incredibly selfish,” he said at a news conference Monday. “You are putting yourself, your family, your neighbors and your fellow Rockfordians at risk. I urge you, please stay home.”
The mayor said among those who aren’t heeding the governor’s order are owners who may be keeping their companies open when they shouldn’t.
“Business owners have the responsibility to objectively analyze whether they are truly essential,” the mayor said. “If they are, they should stay open. But they must take necessary measures to protect their employees and their customers. If you are not essential, you should do the right thing and close your doors.”
Illinois on a grown list of of states that have restricted the movement of millions of people during the pandemic. Pritzker’s order has kept schools shuttered and thousands of workers away from their places of business. Many people are working from home while bars and restaurants are reduced to offering takeout and delivery only.
California, Delaware, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin are under similar orders, as of this report.