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

New mitigation measures could be put into place as early as next week for Lake and McHenry counties if COVID-19 case metrics do not improve, health officials warned on Friday.

The North Suburban Region 9, which includes Lake and McHenry counties, is nearing thresholds set by the State of Illinois.

“After a period of relatively stable metrics, signs are now pointing to substantial community spread of COVID-19 in our region, and we are dangerously close to crossing the State’s mitigation thresholds,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department.

“For the sake of our vulnerable residents, for our schools and our businesses, we must double down and all take personal responsibility to minimize the spread of this virus,” Pfister said.

The Lake County Health Department and McHenry County Department of Health are urging the public to take action to slow the spread of coronavirus.

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They say that the new mitigation measures in the region could come as early as next week.

Lindsey Salvatelli, a spokesperson for the McHenry County Department of Health, told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that Region 9 health officials are in discussions with the state on possible mitigations.

Those could include limiting bar and restaurant service, sports activities, and the size of social gatherings.

Officials said that Region 9 has seen “troubling increases” in both the seven-day rolling average test positivity rate and new hospital admissions for COVID-like illnesses over the past two weeks.

If increases are sustained for seven of the past 10 days for both measures, the region will be required by the state to enter into mitigation under the Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.

Lake County was moved on October 9 into warning level by the Illinois Department of Public Health due to case rates and emergency department visits.

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On Friday, McHenry County was also moved into the warning level by the state while Lake County was returned to stable level.

Officials said that the county-level metrics tracked by the state indicate signs of increasing COVID-19 risk but do not in themselves trigger mitigation measures.

“We know that the everyday precautions of wearing masks, washing hands, and watching our distance help prevent this virus from spreading, and we have to remain vigilant,” said Melissa Adamson, Public Health Administrator for the McHenry County Department of Health.

“Every interaction you have with people from other households carries risk. Carefully consider your plans for social gatherings, holiday get-togethers, and travel. Please do your part to protect yourself and others,” Adamson added.