A 7-year-old and a 10-year-old in Sangamon County have tested positive for COVID-19, Jeff Wilhite, a spokesman for the county confirmed Thursday.
The two were in the same household as another person who has tested positive, according to Wilhite.
They are a few of the 19 new cases officials reported on Wednesday, bringing the total in Sangamon County to 173. About half of them are associated with The Villas Health Care East, a long-term care facility in Sherman.
However, Gail O’Neill, director of the Sangamon County Department of Public Health, said expanding criteria for who can be screened will also mean the county will see more young people with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
"We're going to have a wider span of age ranges,” O’Neill said. “The community will see that the virus kind of doesn't care, it can affect anybody, whether they have symptoms or not.”
Up until the last couple of weeks, tests were prioritized for people with symptoms, including the elderly, those in the hospital or nursing homes, or with underlying health conditions, as well as healthcare workers, first responders and other frontline workers.
O’Neill said people who do not have symptoms, such as dry cough or fever, but have been in close contact with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 case can now be tested.
“We're going to see a few more positives, which is good for people to know so that they will isolate,” O’Neill said. “And we'll have a better idea of what's going on in the community.”
People who are asymptomatic can still spread the virus if they have it. Once they test positive, contact tracing nurses at the health department call them to instruct them to isolate for two weeks, and get a list of people they’ve been in close contact with so the nurses can tell them to quarantine as well.
There is less chance for the disease to spread if people with confirmed cases and those they’ve been around stay home.
A couple new testing sites have opened in the last week in Sangamon County. A former Walgreens on North Grand Avenue is now offering rapid tests.
Memorial Medical Center has also begun using rapid testing equipment, which can provide results faster than sending swabs to private or IDPH-run labs.
Meanwhile, SIU School of Medicine opened a testing site outside the county health department’s office on South Grand Avenue. It’s open 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
As of Wednesday, health workers have completed 1,922 tests. The health department reports 11 people have died from the disease, and 36 have recovered.