Tazewell County is now considered to be at a "coronavirus warning level" by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Tazewell County exceeds state benchmarks for cases per 100,000 people and emergency department admissions of patients with COVID-like symptoms. A "warning level" is issued when a county exceeds targets on two or more risk factors. Twelve other Illinois counties also are on the warning list.
The Tazewell County Health Department issued a health advisory Friday. Health officials said the spike in cases is linked to a disregard for face coverings or social distancing, an increasing number of large and medium-sized gatherings without taking protective measures, and people with mild symptoms failing to take proper precautions like staying home.
Health Department spokeswoman Sara Sparkman encouraged people to stay at home when possible, and to socially distance and wear their face coverings properly when they do need to go out.
"We really want to encourage people to assume that if you leave your house and go out in public, you're being exposed to COVID-19," Sparkman said. "It's out in the community. And just because Tazewell is orange doesn't mean Woodford, Peoria, Fulton, Mason--it's a very transient area, and we share a lot of resources."
The health department is asking people to wear face coverings properly over their nose and mouth when in public or within six feet of someone who's not a member of your immediate household. The health department also recommends avoiding in-person large gatherings, and to stay home if you feel sick.
Sparkman said there were 29 new reported COVID-19 cases in Tazewell County on Friday. In April, she said the county might have seen that many cases in a week's time. The county currently reports 476 total cases and eight deaths.
"We just want people to be aware that there's a lot more cases in the community, and just to be able to protect themselves, and do what they need to do to be healthy," she said.
Peoria County made the warning level list two weeks ago, but fell off the list when emergency department admissions of patients with COVID-like symptoms stabilized. However, Peoria County is still recording a large increase in new positives emerging.
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