While all three counties in the Peoria area are still in the blue (good) on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s County Level COVID-19 Risk Metrics map, positivity rates have been steadily rising over the last few weeks.
On Friday according to IDPH, Peoria was at 6.5%, Tazewell was at 6.6% and Woodford County was at 7.1%. Those are significant jumps from Aug. 12 when Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford had positivity rates of 3.85%, 3.6% and 2.8%, respectively.
On Wednesday, two Illinois counties with positivity levels above 8% were saddled with added restrictions in an effort to stem the spreading virus. Will and Kankakee Counties both lost indoor dining and faced other restrictions because of the rising number of cases.
All across the Midwest, coronavirus infections are trending upward according to tracking by the Washington Post. Seven-day averages for new cases rose during the past week in the Dakotas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wyoming, with the biggest jump in South Dakota and Wyoming, where average daily caseloads are up 58 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
Wisconsin had a bit of good news, however, with case averages declining by about three percent over the past week.
Researchers confirm that COVID-19 reinfections are possible
Earlier this week, researchers in Hong Kong reported that a healthy 33-year old man had contracted COVID-19 a second time, about four and a half months after his first infection.
The case is concerning because it suggests that immunity to the coronavirus may last only a few months in some people, according to the New York Times. Reinfection also has implications for vaccines being developed.
A 15 minute, $5 coronavirus test will soon be available
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Abbott Laboratories emergency-use authorization to market a $5 COVID-19 test which delivers results in 15 minutes, according to USA Today.
The test is the size of a small greeting card and must be administered by a medical professional who takes a nasal swab. The antigen test is similar to a pregnancy test in that the card displays one line for a negative result and two for a positive.
Abbot says it plans to ship millions of the tests in September, and up to 50 million by October, an effort that will significantly increase the nation’s supply of tests.
Maine overnight camps may provide roadmap to preventing virus spread
A federal study published Wednesday suggests techniques used by administrators of four camps in Maine, which prevented a COVID-19 outbreak among more than 1,000 campers and staff members, may provide a roadmap to helping contain the virus in other congregate settings.
The four overnight camps in Maine conducted virus testing before and after campers arrived and made those who tested positive quarantine. Face masks and physical distancing were mandatory, cleaning and disinfection were extensive, campers and counselors stayed in the same groups while at the camp and activities were conducted outdoors as much as possible.
According to the Washington Post, Jeffery Vergales, a pediatrician and senior author of the study, said that keeping staff and campers in separate bubbles the whole time was key.
"If we had a case, we wouldn’t have to scramble to identify the contacts. We knew who they were, and we could very quickly quarantine those contacts," said Vergales. "The fact that we had no known secondary spread is luck. The fact that we didn’t have an exponential outbreak is planning."
Fleeing a hurricane during a pandemic
As if things weren’t bad enough in Texas where 10,000 people have died from COVID-19, the pandemic made it more difficult to evacuate and house people who fled hurricane Laura, which made landfall Thursday.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the number of people on evacuation buses was limited, and PPE was provided at emergency shelters. In some counties evacuees are staying in hotels instead of shelters.
"Obviously, this year it is different with the considerations for COVID-19; traditionally we have shelters set up in schools, that’s not going to be how we’re going to operate this year," said Austin’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management spokesman Bryce Bencivengo as evacuations were underway.
Confusing testing recommendations clarified, sort of
On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted to clarify controversial testing guidelines published on Monday that people with no symptoms "do not necessarily need a test," even if they are exposed to an infected person, according to USA Today.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement that people who come in close contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient could be tested, even if they don’t have symptoms. But the statement falls short of previous CDC guidance which recommended that contacts of infected people be tested to stem asymptomatic transmission.
"Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test. Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test; the key is to engage the needed public health community in the decision with the appropriate follow-up action," said Redfield.
Information from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Austin-American Statesman, and USA Today was used to compile this article.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 270-8503 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.