Photo: Justin L. Fowler | AP
Though many west-central Illinois counties have seen an increase in positive COVID-19 test results during the past two weeks, health officials aren’t seeing a clear cause for them, they say.
Labor Day was two weeks ago, and the incubation period for anyone who was exposed during the holiday weekend should be coming to a close, health officials say. Still, while there have been increases, health officials have seen no real spikes that can be directly tied to one of the larger barbecuing weekends of the year.
“We haven’t seen a huge spike in cases, but we have seen an increase in the demand for testing,” said Dale Bainter, administrator for Morgan County Health Department.
Though only open for three days, the Morgan County testing site has had more than 20 people requesting tests each day — with up to 42 patients being tested on Monday, Bainter said.
Cass County also has seen an increase in cases during the past two weeks, said Andrew English, director of health education for Cass County Health Department.
“For Labor Day weekend, we are at Day 14 and that is the window we would be concerned with,” English said. “Anytime you have a holiday weekend, especially one as social as Labor Day, you expect to see some increases. Our case total is up a little, but it’s consistent with what we would expect to see.”
The numbers haven’t been too high and there haven’t been any large outbreaks, English said.
People still need to take precautions, he said.
“Everything so far appears to be community spread at this point, but every individual case has the potential to turn into some bigger problem,” he said. “That is why we preach social distancing and wearing a mask.”
Scott County was up to 69 cases Monday, with one added during the weekend, said Steve Shireman, administrator for Scott County Health Department.
“We expect to see an increase of sorts, we just don’t know how many,” Shireman said. “There is a lot of potential when people gather for things like barbecues.”
The county has been doing roughly 30 tests a day and has seen a steady increase in positive test results, though no huge spikes, Shireman said.
While he isn’t aware of any outbreaks related to Labor Day weekend, he can’t say cases haven’t been reported from group gatherings.
“The biggest issues with the spread is a lack of mass compliance,” Shireman said.
Any type of weekend or family gathering can lead to the potential spread of the virus, Bainter said.
“It’s been pretty common on the weekends throughout the summer,” he said. “It’s represented every time we see cases related because individuals are not taking steps to protect themselves and others.”
It doesn’t take a holiday weekend to create spread, though.
“We’ve seen people spread through golfing, working — there is no magic to it,” Bainter said. “It’s basic social distancing.”
People need to realize that they aren’t just protecting themselves, but those around them, too, he said.
“You are protecting those in your household,” Bainter said. “It’s common for cases to be linked in families. It’s so easily spread in households.”