The Illinois National Guard conducts COVID-19 testing at a drive-thru facility in Waukegan in May 2020 | Photo: Illinois National Guard.

Health officials in Lake and McHenry counties said they are working together as state metrics indicate an uptick in COVID-19 cases, which could cause a rollback of reopening.

The two counties make up the North Suburban Region, which is called Region 9, identified under a plan recently rolled out by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Under the plan, the region is positioned to respond with appropriate interventions as current state metrics indicate an increase of COVID-19 positive cases.

The Illinois Department of Public Health shows that there has been a daily increase for the past nine days in the region’s positivity rate. As of Saturday, the North Suburban Region had reached 7-day rolling average of 5.1% positivity.

Any region that sustains an 8% positivity rate for three consecutive days or sees an increase in positivity rates and a simultaneous decrease in hospital capacity will need to implement additional community mitigation interventions, according to the state’s plan.

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“This new tiered approach is a win for both counties. We have better control and greater flexibility over what happens in McHenry and Lake County,” said McHenry County Administrator Pete Austin.

“We have successfully kept our cases and deaths from COVID-19 low in our region over the past month and are united in our efforts to keep this virus at bay,” Austin added.

Interventions in the region will be chosen from a tiered menu of options based on the severity and potential cause of the resurgence.

“Under this new model, we are working across county lines in collaboration with the state, allowing our public health experts to guide decisions,” Lake County Administrator Gary Gibson said.

“Our goal is to keep our communities moving forward. If we continue seeing a resurgence, however, we will act quickly to save lives,” Gibson said.

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While the state metrics show the North Suburban Region metrics currently meet state targets, health department leaders are concerned about the recent spike in cases and are evaluating future interventions.

Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister warned that Lake and McHenry county’s positivity rate has been growing and residents must do their part to keep it from increasing further.

Mitigation measures in the region could include restricting the size of social gatherings, reducing capacity at businesses or scaling back operations in industries that pose a higher risk of transmission, such as indoor dining, bars, salons and personal care services.

“Our success relies heavily on our residents adhering to the simple public health guidelines that we know are effective in slowing this virus,” McHenry County Department of Health Administrator Melissa Adamson said.

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“Our region cannot accomplish this goal without public support, and we will be successful if we commit to the basics – wearing masks, washing our hands, and watching our distance from others,” she added.