Virus concerns impact McHenry County from initial exposure case

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

The March 10 announcement of a McHenry County teen testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) set into motion a series of events in reaction to the news, the following day. Building and school closures marked the news, and included a disaster declaration from the county board chairman. No information has been released on how the individual contracted the virus, and it is known that his ties extend into Lake County.

A March 10 statement from the McHenry County Department of Health, said, “A McHenry county resident has tested positive at the Illinois Department of Public Health laboratory for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The case is a McHenry county teen without a history of travel to an affected area and no connection to a known case of COVID-19. The individual is currently in isolation and doing well.”

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks declared a state of emergency for the county, in a March 11 statement. “The declaration activates the emergency operations plans of the McHenry County Department of Health and the McHenry County Emergency Management Agency, and requests state and federal funding and resources to combat a potential outbreak. Franks made the declaration upon the joint recommendation of county Public Health Administrator Melissa Adamson, and Emergency Management Agency Director David Christensen.”

Lindsey Salvatelli, the county department’s community information coordinator, said, “The department is conducting contact testing for the proximity of where the McHenry individual, who tested positive for the virus, traveled and it is something we are looking at regionally, not just confining it to the local area. The Woodstock DMV closure on March 11 was a state-driven initiative. In doing our due diligence, we found exposure was no more prevalent in the office than being out in public.”

Public awareness of precautionary measures came with the closure of the Woodstock Secretary of State Driver’s License Facility on Route 47, with a sign in the front window, “We are closing this facility as there is an investigation as there is a potential indirect exposure to the coronavirus.” The facility re-opened March 11, with a cleaning and sanitizing effort being undertaken.

Algonquin-based Community Unit School District 300 formally announced the closure of Dundee-Crown High School, as well as any extracurricular activities, March 12-13. The downtime will allow cleaning and sanitizing of the school facility, based upon a potential virus exposure by a student. The Kane County Health Department had notified the school district of the potential contamination to the high school building.

The county department of health has reported that as of March 12, there are two confirmed cases of exposure to the coronavirus in McHenry County.

“We have been inundated with calls regarding the virus, and we would ask that if an individual feels they have been exposed, or has questions and concerns, to immediately contact their health care provider,” said Salvatelli. “Prevention methods should include washing your hands for 20 seconds, not touching your face, and apply common sense. We are actively monitoring and canvassing areas for the time being.”