Over the last few weeks, a discrepancy in COVID-19 positivity numbers has emerged between the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the McHenry County Health Department. With the county facing resurgence mitigations as soon as next week, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) is urging IDPH to update their numbers to reflect what he considers to be more accurate numbers charted by the McHenry County Health Department.
“I’m very disappointed to learn that the IDPH numbers will be used as the official COVID-19 indicators for McHenry County and Region 9, because I have great faith in our county health department and the leadership of Health Department Administrator Melissa Adamson,” said Reick. “I’ve had detailed conversations with Ms. Adamson, and from what I understand, the health department numbers provide a more accurate picture of McHenry County’s COVID-19 cases. I can only imagine that Ms. Adamson faced a great deal of pressure from state officials to back away from her numbers.”
According to Reick, McHenry County Health Department numbers are scrubbed and updated after contact tracing takes place. People who took multiple tests have their results adjusted to reflect just one test outcome, and individuals who crossed over into McHenry County from other counties or states for a test were removed as non-county residents. Additionally, college students who tested positive on their campuses were removed in cases when the student is not currently living in McHenry County. State IDPH numbers are raw numbers and have not been adjusted to reflect contact tracing findings.
“Before imposing new restrictions on restaurants, bars and other hospitality businesses, we need to ensure we are using the most accurate and up-to-date numbers available,” Reick said. “One week ago IDPH reported a positivity rate of 8.4% for McHenry County and the county health department reported a rate of 6.2%. When 8% is the threshold for heightened mitigations, we should be using correct numbers and not numbers that haven’t been verified and scrubbed of duplicates and non-county positive tests. If contact tracing is going to be such an important part of our fight against COVID-19, then the results derived from such tracing should be used to give us an accurate picture.”
Region 9, which includes Lake and McHenry Counties, is currently on the warning list for mitigations, with combined average positivity numbers of 7.0%, 7.3%, 7.5% and 7.7% posted over the last four reporting days. If the region posts positivity numbers of over 8% for three consecutive days, heightened mitigations will be triggered.