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CDC ups COVID-19 community level for Morgan, Schuyler counties

The risk of coronavirus in Morgan and Schuyler counties has risen, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

The federal health agency moved the counties into a “medium” community level. Both had been at “low” risk.

The change was the result of a rise in confirmed cases during a week’s time. In the seven days through Tuesday, 75 cases were reported in Morgan County — a 36.36% increase, according to the CDC. There were no new related deaths or hospitalizations in the county, however.

In Schuyler County, 14 new COVID-19 cases were recorded. That is a 7.69% increase. While there were no new deaths during the week, there was an increase in the number of those requiring hospital treatment for the virus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health statistics.

At medium level, officials recommend the elderly and those with health issues wear a mask indoors when in public places and make sure they are vaccinated and have received a booster shot.

The risk elevation was not unexpected. Neighboring Sangamon, Menard and Calhoun counties have been at medium risk for several weeks. In addition, cases in both Morgan and Schuyler counties have been growing since mid-April, although they remain substantially below pandemic peaks that came in January.

Thirty counties statewide are at medium community-risk level.

Perhaps more significantly, the number of Illinois counties assessed at “high” risk nearly doubled this week.

Fifteen counties now are at that highest rank, up from eight last week. Most of the counties are in northern Illinois — including Chicago, Cook County and surrounding counties — but a cluster of counties is in central Illinois, around Peoria. Counties are the high level are Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Will, Grundy, Boone, Lee and Winnebago in northern Illinois and Fulton, Knox, Henderson, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell in central Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health .

“With 15 counties in Illinois now rated at a high community level, everyone in the state should be paying close attention to the guidance from public health authorities and taking action to protect themselves, their loved ones and friends,” Illinois Department of Public Health acting Director Amaal Tokars said.

Health officials continue to stress the importance of vaccinations, saying they are available through many health departments and pharmacies. There have been 22,293,645 vaccines administered in Illinois, with the state health department saying more than 76% of residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. More than 69% are fully vaccinated, and more than 52% of those who are vaccinated have received at least one booster, according to the CDC.

There were 36,843 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease and 45 related deaths statewide last week, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Since March 2020, there have been 3,286,377 COVID cases and 33,806 deaths statewide.

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