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Ogle health officials keeping busy to stay on top of growing virus demands

Ogle County Health Department offices in Oregon and Rochelle are closed to the public until further notice, but officials might be busier than ever. 

Health department officials are in constant contact with health-care personnel as they monitor possible COVID-19 cases and give recommendations to local organizations on how to stay safe in an effort to stop spreading the virus.

“It’s not more or less difficult living here,” OCHD Public Health Administrator Kyle Auman said. “We’re taking the same tactics as the rest of the state and country. We’re following trends and precautions. We track every single case coming into the department until they are confirmed results.”

Ogle County’s smaller population centers don’t make it any less susceptible to the virus, Auman said. He cited villages in Italy where coronavirus spread rapidly once it arrived.

As of last Thursday, there were around 50 cases in which county residents were in the testing process or had come into contact with someone who has the virus.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county.

Ogle County has one hospital, Rochelle Community Hospital. Auman has been monitoring people who have gone in for testing, as well as those going to KSB Hospital in Dixon and hospitals in Rockford.

“We know it’s around us,” Auman said. “People here go to the counties and suburbs that have it. The assumption is that we have community spread going on right now. Public health officials have said so.”

Having just one hospital in the community does not worry Auman. Citizens not taking measure laid out by health officials does.

“Rochelle Community Hospital is better prepared than some,” Auman said. “They’re doing drive-thru clinics. If we don’t implement mitigation tactics and people don’t take it seriously, we’ll be dealing with a medical surge.”

He also was disappointed by the number of people who went to bars and restaurants in advance of their closure Wednesday.

“I think we have many more months of this to deal with. If we can stay at home as much as possible, it will be shortened.”