County health departments get a helping hand from the state in handling COVID cases starting next week.
With the continuing wave of new cases occurring across the country just before the holidays, the Illinois Department of Public Health is preparing to roll out a new way to collect and disseminate COVID data to the public.
Morgan County Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter said Morgan County has seen the same rapid increase in positive cases as other areas since after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Bainter now says the state of Illinois is preparing to take over the handling of new cases and contact tracing data from local health departments.
“The state has used a process called Surge Center, where contact tracing has been done during a surge when the local health department cannot handle it. Thus, any case that has not been treated within twenty-four hours by the local health department is referred to the surge center.
From next week on the 28the, the IDPH will change the process so that the emergency center receives all positives instead of the local health department, and then that emergency center will prioritize the cases based on the sixty-five-year-old or more, isn’t it a gathering framework?
They will therefore assess this risk and prioritize, then assign the most risky cases to the local health service. But the Surge Center will handle the majority of cases from then on. “
Bainter says that currently all notifications of positive cases reach the county health department first through a state database, and then the county processes those cases internally. He says everything is about to change from next week.
“Now that the cases will go through the emergency center and the IDPH first, they will then decontaminate them at the local health department, so we hope we don’t see a delay in notification. Hopefully this will speed up the process. We have some concerns, we’ve been doing it for a while now, and whenever there’s a change we’re worried about how it’s going to work.
Data from the Surge Center process is starting to show up on the IDPH website, although many parts of the total reporting portal have yet to be fully implemented.
According to data from the Variant Proportions report, as of Saturday, 98.5% of all COVID cases in Illinois continue to be the Delta variant, with 1.41% the new Omicron. According to data, the original Alpha variant is still circulating in the general public, but on the total number of cases as of December 18e, Alpha is only 0.08%.
Bainter says testing is still available through the Morgan County Department of Health thanks to the continued partnership with the Drive Through Testing Center at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He says private testing has also arrived in the region via pharmacies and independent companies all providing free testing.
To find a COVID-19 testing site near you, log onto coronavirus.illinois.gov/testing-sites
or contact your local health care provider.