IDPH separates UIUC saliva tests from Region 6

By Gavin Good

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that it will now count the University of Illinois’ saliva COVID-19 tests separately from the rest of Region 6, which includes the rest of Champaign County and east-central Illinois.

“University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign saliva testing will be broken out separately,” the IDPH explained in a press release. “This will allow us to better identify testing needs and trends in the region.”

The change came with an immediate increase in the Region 6 positivity rate that was reflected without the university’s testing. When UIUC’s data is subtracted from the Region 6 total for Oct. 11, the most recent daily results released by IDPH, the positivity rate jumps from 3.6% to 8.6%. Region 6’s seven-day positivity average, which sits at a lower 2.2% with UIUC tests and 6.6% without, has now has increased for five-straight days.

Meanwhile, UIUC’s seven-day positivity rate remains well under 1%, at 0.20%. On Monday, 23 new cases were announced among 9,573 tests for a one-day positivity rate of 0.24%.

The state of Illinois currently has additional COVID-19 mitigations for Regions 1, the northwestern-most counties of the state, and Region 4, the Metro East area near St. Louis. Under the Restore Illinois Plan, regions that reach an 8.0% or higher seven-day average positivity rate for a period of three days or more, or where a significant increase in hospital admissions or decreases in hospital capacity. Region 6 still is in Phase 4: Revitalization, which allows restaurants and bars to open for indoor dining.

Champaign County’s positivity rate remains much lower than the rest of Region 6, sitting at 0.41% as of Oct. 13, as the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department announced 28 new cases among 6,741 new tests. Meanwhile, eight Region 6 counties were recently named to the IDPH’s “warning level” for COVID-19, including Clay, Coles, Effingham, Shelby, Vermillion, Crawford, Richland and Fayette counties.

According to an IDPH press release, factors believed to be related to the increases in cases for counties at warning level are “associated with large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, university and college parties as well as college sports teams, family gatherings, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools, and cases among the community at large, especially people in their 20s.”