Winnebago County

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The Winnebago County Health Department Monday announced 525 new cases of COVID-19. 

That number represents new cases from Friday and over the weekend. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said this was concerning, especially after reporting more than 200 new cases over a three-day period last week.

“We are reporting no new deaths and our hospital capacity has stabilized over the last week," she said. "But we are in a very critical time frame where we have both seasonal influenza beginning to rear, as well as our COVID-19.”

Midway Village Museum

Some Illinois counties have lower pandemic death tolls than others. Part of the differences come from demographics. And just like on the national scene, Illinois results depend a lot on prevention efforts.

Winnebago County and Champaign County both have a mix of urban and rural populations. Winnebago County has nearly a third more COVID-19 cases than Champaign County, and six times the number of deaths.

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 203 new cases of COVID-19 from Saturday to Monday.

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell announced this while fielding questions about mitigation measures imposed on the county by the state health department.  

“Our total positives now is at 6,685, and over 34% of our population has been tested to date.”

Paul Carpenter 2020 Website

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross is defending her decision to dismiss an assistant state’s attorney who is also a current candidate to succeed her in the office.

 

 

Hite Ross removed Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Carpenter from his post over the weekend. She said all employees in her office are employed "at will" which means they can be dismissed at her discretion at any time.

 

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The Winnebago County Health Department reported scores of new cases of COVID-19 at a press conference Monday. 

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said a lot of the transmission is due to Labor Day weekend activities. The ages of those infected vary.

“And those ages are anywhere from two years to 68," she said. "This brings our total to 4,794 cases.” 

Martell is also worried about an increasing positivity rate.

Fiat Chrystler Automobiles

There’s new information known about COVID-19 cases associated with the Fiat Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere. 

 

Health officials from the Boone and Winnebago county health departments have been working closely with Fiat Chrysler to identify cases of COVID-19 at the Belvidere plant. The goal is to determine whether cases among workers were through community spread, or if there was an outbreak within the plant itself.

 

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The Winnebago County Health Department is reporting a preliminary count Friday of 44 new cases of coronavirus and a positivity rate of 6%.

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said this comes as Illinois is at risk for a surge in cases over the Labor Day weekend. It’s traditionally the last major summer weekend for people to get together. 

The Winnebago County Health Department on Monday reported 9 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the total case count since the pandemic began up to 4,233.  Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said that it’s important for everyone who’s been exposed to get tested, even if they’re asymptomatic.

“Approximately 22% of our population has sought out testing," she said. "Total tests performed to date in Winnebago County are over 65,000. “

The Winnebago County Health Department on Tuesday reported 17 additional cases of COVID. This brings the county’s total health case count since the pandemic began to four thousand eighty-seven. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martel said unfortunately, that wasn’t the only change.

“Once again we have one additional death to report, and our community mourns the loss of one member," she said. "No matter how small the number, we continue to mourn those losses."

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 22 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martel said there were no new deaths.

“That brings our total case count to 3,828. As of this day too, over 56,000 tests have been done, representing almost 20% of our population.”

The numbers come as school districts in Winnebago County are preparing to reopen. Several are offering the choice of remote or in-person learning for students.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

Over the weekend, State Representative John Cabello replied to a Facebook user who asked him if, “now is it time to lock and load? Asking for a friend.” Cabello replied to the comment by saying, “not yet but be ready.” 

Winnebago State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross said in a press release that the representative’s rhetoric is unacceptable. She said that, "In my office, if anyone made comments of that nature, they would no longer be employed by my office."

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said the number of cases is a jump up from recent daily reports. The county’s total is now stands at 3,189.  

“The good news though, is that our positivity rate continues to decline. We’re at 2.9% for a rolling five-day average, but our overall positivity rate is 8%," she said. 

https://www.gorockford.com/resource-center/our-journey/

Two Rockford-area nonprofits and a local business are teaming up to support artists and art organizations in Winnebago County. 

The Winnebago County Health Department reported 69 new cases of COVID-19 in the area.

This brings the total number of cases to 2,062.  The number of recoveries is now at 640.  But Director Sandra Martell said it wasn’t all good news.

“Unfortunately and sadly, we are reporting four additional deaths, three of which are associated with a congregate setting. That brings our total deaths to 58.”

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

Various businesses will start reopening as part of the Restore Illinois plan beginning Friday. 

State guidelines vary based upon the business and area. Winnebago County Health Department Director Sandra Martell said some things will remain the same.

“Every single one of us needs to be masking and using face covering when we’re out in public, social distancing of a minimum of six feet, sanitizing surfaces, frequent handwashing, and staying home when you’re sick,” she said.

State and local leaders are making decisions every day about the COVID-19 pandemic that are met with both praise and criticism. WNIJ’s Peter Medlin has the first part of our series “The Hot Seat” talking to leaders, like the Winnebago County Sheriff, about the process behind those big decisions.

Recently, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled an executive order to keep businesses from opening before Illinois reached the next phase of reopening. Business owners could be charged with a misdemeanor for violating the stay-at-home order.

The Winnebago County Health Department announced 8 more coronavirus deaths.

County Chairman Frank Haney went into detail in a Thursday press conference.

“The dates of death range from May 17th through the 21st. The age range is age 50 through age 98. These deaths have all been confirmed as COVID-19 by the coroner today.”

This brings the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Winnebago County to 52. 

City of Rockford

Rockford and Winnebago County are working to open several sectors of the local community by the end of the month. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara made the announcement at a Monday press conference.

“The three areas include restaurants. They include child care facilities and youth programs, and houses of worship."  

McNamara says the openings are being considered as a result of improved COVID-19 metrics.

IDPH

The Winnebago County Health Department received COVID-19 test results from the original state-contracted lab for tests done at the Community Based Testing Site located at the UIC Health Sciences Campus between April 24 and May 6. According to a news release, the health department is currently working to contact all patients who didn’t receive their test results from that time, regardless of whether the result is negative or positive for COVID-19. The release says the influx of new results will result in a higher-than-normal confirmed COVID-19 case count once the data is compiled.

Winnebago County announced 54 new COVID-19 cases Monday, putting the total number of cases at 616.  Dr. Sandra Martell is with the Winnebago County Health Department. She said many of these cases were in areas of concern, such as nursing homes. 

"I want to remind the public, we anticipated more cases with more testing, and our modeling indicated this time frame would be our peak, even with social distancing practices in place," Martell said. "So we continue to monitor and watch over the next week.”

The Winnebago County Health Department reported eight new positive cases of COVID-19 in the area  Monday. This brings the total number of positive cases reported up to 113. 

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell says the rate of positive cases among tests has been on the rise. But she says they’ve become easier to follow thanks to community interviews and contact. She says those contacted by the health department have been very cooperative.

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Winnebago County’s health administrator says residents can do better.

Sandra Martell held a news conference Thursday to provide an update on prevention efforts in the county.

She was joined by Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. Martell shared the results of a “social distancing” scoreboard.

"I’m disappointed," Martell said. "Winnebago County only has a B-. When you think about that, and I’m going to borrow a phrase from the mayor, ‘B’s get degrees,' but here, 'B’s may get disease.'”

Note: This case is not yet reflected in the IDPH numbers.

The Winnebago County Health Department is reporting a death related to COVID-19. County Health Director Sandra Martell says the identity of the man is not being released, but he was in his 60s.  

“We would like to share a statement from the family: 'He was a husband, a son, a brother, and a friend,'” Martell said. “And I would like to add 'a member of our community.'”

Guy Stephens

Voters in Winnebago County will decide whether to increase its sales tax by half a percent. The money would fund mental health services. 

Mary Ann Abate spent 41 years in mental health services as a social worker in Rockford, 25 of them on call.

“So every night," she said, "when anyone dealt with a psychiatric emergency in the emergency rooms from Janet Wattles Center or Rosecrance after that, I was consulted.”

Abate said that gave her a good idea of what is lacking in the county’s mental health system of care. 

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross will not run for election next year. She announced through a news release Thursday that her tenure as State’s Attorney will end in December 2020.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced Thursday the terms of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by Sheriff Gary Caruana against Winnebago County, County Board Chairman Frank Haney and County Treasurer Susan Goral.   

Jenna Dooley

Longtime political observers are concerned about a lack of transparency and infighting among Winnebago County leaders.

This week, Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney and a group of voters sued county board members in federal court. They argue the board systematically stripped Haney of executive powers since he took office in 2016. It's the latest in a string of complaints lodged within county leadership.

"We've completely distracted, distorted and perverted the way we do business. You know, nobody really feels good," said Haney.

: http://www.healthcarereportcard.illinois.gov/maps

Visits to the emergency room for asthma vary widely across Illinois. One reason could be how it's treated.

Asthma is an inflammatory lung condition that can cause bouts of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, a patient's airways swell shut, requiring a visit to the emergency room.

The Illinois Hospital Report Card tracks these types of visits. Between 2015-2017, Stephenson County had among the highest rates of visits in the state.

Courtesy Haunted Rockford

A Rockford author is speaking later this week about unsolved crimes in Winnebago County’s history.

Kathi Kresol has written two books on the history of Rockford and Winnebago County.  She’s also the founder of Haunted Rockford, and she writes a newspaper column about some of the area’s unsolved crimes called “Voices From the Grave.”

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In the midst of summer’s high temperatures, DeKalb, Winnebago and Boone Counties are ensuring the public is safe in times of extreme heat.

The Rockford City Market is moving many of its vendors inside the market building and under the Rockford City Market Pavilion on Friday due to the ongoing heatwave. 

The DeKalb County Health Department is sharing tips to help the public stay cool, hydrated, and informed.   

The tips include staying in air-conditioned locations, drinking more water than usual and checking local news outlets for extreme heat warnings. 

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