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* Coronavirus / COVID-19: Your health

Current situation

In early September, the coronavirus (COVID-19) risk level in Lake County changed from blue to orange on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) County Level Risk Metrics Map. An orange designation indicates warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk in the community.

“Recent investigations by our Communicable Disease team show increases in cases linked to private gatherings,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist at the Health Department. “Remember, don’t let your guard down just because you are around people you trust—your friends, co-workers, and even family members. Take precautions every single time you are with others who don’t live in your household.”

Public health officials urge everyone to take action to slow the spread of COVID-19 by following the 3 Ws every day:

  • Wash your hands

  • Watch your distance

  • Wear a face covering

Safety guidelines

Help reduce your risk and do your part to protect others by following safety guidelines:

  • Wear a face covering or mask whenever you leave home. Researchers estimate that 50% of COVID cases are transmitted by people who are not (yet) showing symptoms of the illness. The more people wear masks, the safer everyone is from infection. (*Effective August 26: Restaurant customers are required to wear face masks whenever they interact with staff.)
  • Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from people outside your household.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and dry with a clean towel or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth).
  • Avoid crowds or large gatherings.
  • Stay home if you are ill, except to receive medical care.

Quick links

CDC prevention guidelines

Guide to going out: grocery shopping, banking, running errands, recreational activities, returning to work/school (CDC)

Homemade masks - no sewing required (CDC)

How to grocery shop (Illinois Department of Public Health)

How long coronavirus can live on surfaces - graphic (New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet & Business Insider)

19 questions about masks, answered (The Guardian)

When and how to quarantine at home (CDC)

Contact tracing facts

Lake County is using contact tracing to help control the spread of the coronavirus and keep you, your family, and your community safe.

Contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (in this case, COVID-19) and the people they came in contact with and working with them to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 and their contacts to voluntarily quarantine at home.

Contact tracing is a widely used public health practice. It has been used for many years to help stop the spread of infectious diseases. In fact, if you have ever had a child at school with an outbreak of lice or strep throat, you have probably encountered a small-scale version of contact tracing. The goal of contact tracing is to be able to notify people who may have been exposed so they can halt the spread of infection.

Contact tracing is a voluntary practice and you can choose what information you share. Participating in the contact tracing process is one of the most effective ways we can help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Any information shared with a contact tracer is kept confidential. By providing information on your symptoms and when they started, where you have been, and who you have seen, public health staff can help you know how to protect your loved ones and help others protect themselves. Your personal information is not shared with others when they are notified that they may have been exposed.

Contact tracing is vital in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Time is crucial in contact tracing. As more people come in contact with the infected person, the risk of spread increases. By expanding contact tracing, we can reduce the number of people who are unknowingly passing on COVID-19 to others. 

Phase 4 Illinois guidelines

The statewide rules for gatherings and activities are subject to change based on data. View the current guidelines here.

Johns Hopkins University graph of data showing cases in Illinois were spiking in early September


If you are sick

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have or think you might have COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before medical help arrives.

Anyone can get tested: Community-based testing sites are now open to all individuals, regardless of symptoms or other criteria. No appointment, doctor referral, or insurance is needed at state-operated drive-thru sites and testing is available at no cost to the individual.

​COVID-19 testing sites in Illinois

Find a testing site near you. 

Illinois COVID-19 Hotline

CALL 1-800-889-3931


How coronavirus spreads

Expert understanding of coronavirus transmission is evolving. Research shows that four factors most likely play a role in spreading the virus:

  • how close you get to an infected person;
  • how long you are near that person;
  • whether that person expels viral droplets on or near you; and
  • how much you touch your face afterwards


If you think you've been exposed

Contact your healthcare provider or call the Lake County Health Department’s Communicable Disease program at 847-377-8130 for guidance on quarantine and testing.

Symptoms typically develop 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. A list of COVID-19 symptoms can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Some people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms at all and may still be able to spread the virus to others.


Get support

For mental health

Illinois has launched Call4Calm, a free emotional support text line for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19. To speak with a mental health professional, text “TALK” or “HABLAR” (for Spanish) to 552020.

Help for seniors

Senior Help Line, Illinois Department of Aging:

CALL 800-252-8966


Other types of help

This is a difficult time. If you need to talk to someone, help is a phone call or text away, completely confidential, and free. Clicking the button below takes you to the Illinois Department of Human Service's round-up of who you can contact to get assistance in a variety of situations. 

Contact someone who can help