CHICAGO (CBS) — Two counties in the greater Chicago area have been highlighted as hot zones for the coronavirus as cases rise again.

As CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra reported Monday, the State of Illinois is warning about DuPage County, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sounding the alarm about Will County. Both have increasing COVID case numbers as well as increasing hospitalizations.

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“I’m extraordinarily concerned that we are now hitting another wave,” said Karen Ayala, the head of the health department in DuPage County.

Ayala is not mincing words about where her county stands in the fight against the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“We’re seeing significant increases in the last probably two weeks,” she said.

You can see it the two-week-old data from the State of Illinois, which has DuPage in orange – warning of increased COVID spread.

COVID-19 Transmission Map: State Of Illinois

(Credit: State Of Illinois)

And it has gotten worse even since then. Last Wednesday, July 21, DuPage saw 60 new COVID cases. By Thursday, it was 119 – just shy of doubling in one day.

“We’re now back to 60 cases for the last three days, and that’s pushing us very close to the next threshold the CDC has identified of being in substantial transmission,” Ayala said.

According to the CDC, several Illinois counties are already in that substantial transmission zone, also shown in orange – and Will County is one of them.

COVID-19 Transmission Map: CDC

(Credit: CDC)

“We just have to realize this is not the time to be overconfident,” said Steve Brandy of the Will County Health Department. “This is not the time to be cocky.”

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Brandy said Will County fighting the rise in cases in the unvaccinated with more targeted pop-up events.

“Instead of mass vaccination, it’s the little niche vaccination,” he said. “What areas are not getting taken care of?”

Beyond that, he fears we’ve relaxed too much.

“There’s less masking. There’s more travel, more gathering,” Brandy said.

In DuPage, there’s worry those without the vaccine aren’t following recommendations.

“Individuals who are not vaccinated are not masking. They are not social distancing or physical distancing,” Ayala said.

So both counties are asking that people make the move get the shot to protect themselves and others, as the numbers show this next wave is real.

“And to know that it could all be prevented, I think, is a really sad statement,” Ayala said.

Both counties also echoed a similar sentiment Monday – they want to foster an us-versus-the-virus attitude instead of fighting against each other.
But they know that remains a tall order.

Meanwhile, officials say the unvaccinated remain the population of most concern for causing the spread of the virus now. But in DuPage County, there is a lot of concern for kids 12 and under who can’t be vaccinated.

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Especially because the viral load from those infected with the Delta variant is so much greater, public health officials worry the risk of kids bringing the virus home to vulnerable adults is much greater now, too.

Marie Saavedra