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Editorials

OUR VIEW: Face reality, we have to fight as a community to stop spread of COVID-19

You can't socially distance from reality.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Illinois in early March, and cases started to exponentially rise, the entire state eventually was ordered to stay at home by Gov. JB Pritzker.

Outside of Chicago and Cook County, and especially outside of the collar counties, novel coronavirus cases were sparse – and because of the lack of testing, difficult to find. A majority of the cases were in the city and suburban Cook at that time, so why should the rest of the state be punished, the argument went.

The governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health grouped the state into four healthcare regions, lumping in the collar counties with Chicago, again to much griping from the suburbs.

But the state pushed through, and COVID-19 cases went from a high of 4,014 on May 12, to just 473 on June 15.

Now, it appears the state is in a second wave of this virus. We are averaging about 1,500 cases per day now.

The difference, this time, is the virus is much more spread out across the state.

This past Saturday, the positivity rate in all of the now-11 health care regions in Illinois went up.

Chicago's positivity rate is the fourth lowest among the 11 regions at 4.0%. Meanwhile, Region 4, near St. Louis, and Region 5, the southern part of the state, are at 6.9% and 5.9% positivity, respectively. The southern part of the state has seen 8 days of positivity increases in the past 10.

As of Sunday, the McHenry and Lake county region hit one of the two required thresholds to get restrictions put on businesses that have struggled to survive this pandemic by seeing its positivity rate rise in 7 out of 10 days.

La Salle County is one of four counties, along with Adams, Peoria and Randolph counties, that got warned on Friday by the IDPH for COVID-19 risk indicators. Among the problems cited in the county: large family and social gatherings, increase in cases among people younger than 29 years, younger people visiting bars and attending larger social events, and inconsistencies with masking requirements.

None of these counties are Cook. This second wave is not a big city problem.

This is all a problem, for all of us, the present and the future.

Although medical professionals know more about how to treat this virus than they did in March – turning patients on their stomachs and the availability of proven drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone have reduced deaths – it's a problem for the future because this disease carries several lags. It can take up to two weeks from infection to symptoms, another week from symptoms to diagnosis, and a week after that to hospitalization. All the while that person can infect others.

We'll say it again. You can't socially distance yourself from reality.

The good news is there are steps that are proven to reduce transmission. We've been through them. Maintaining social distance and wearing a mask or a face covering when out in public are steps you can take. We owe that sense of not just personal responsibility, but the basic social contract of a community in this fight together.

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