ROCKFORD — From mid-March to mid-April, the city experienced a 51% increase in domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery.


Mayor Tom McNamara revealed the troubling statistic at Monday’s COVID-19 news briefing at the Winnebago County Health Department.


Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence cases already accounted for 25% of the Rockford Police Department’s calls for service.


"When the stay-at-home order began in March we stated we had concerns about domestic violence cases. Sadly we were correct to have those concerns," the mayor said.


He added, "We also thought at the time the COVID-19 crisis began we thought calls to our partner agencies would decrease, and unfortunately we were again correct.


"Staying at home in a difficult relationship can add fuel to an already burning fire."


There are a number resources available to domestic violence survivors, the mayor said. Those resources can be accessed by calling the city at 779-200-2300 as well as Remedies 24-hour service at 815-962-6102.


Winnebago County Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said the number of COVID-19 deaths in the county remains at 14, but 41 new cases have been identified.


Of the new cases, 21 were identified through "point-of-care rapid testing" by Physician’s Immediate Care. The patients range in age from 5 to 65 years old.


"So there is no sparing of any particular age group," she said.


Martell added, "On the positive side, 28 individuals have been reported as recovering, representing almost 8% so far of our individuals who have tested positive now are reporting as recovering."


Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney said he is among thousands of other county residents who have an underlying condition and who statistically have been hit harder by COVID-19.


He stressed the importance of everyone taking health department safety measures seriously and shared that he survived a heart attack in 2016 and is considered a high-risk individual.


"I know I am responsible for my own health," he said. "I have to do a lot of work. I need to eat healthier. I need to lose weight. I need to be more active. I need to do my part as a 46-year-old father of three.


"But I’m also interdependent upon people I come in contact with. And it’s important that they take this very seriously as well."


Local health departments said they are aware that more individuals in the area have COVID-19 than are being tested for the disease. Individuals can spread the disease even before they have symptoms. Increased testing helps public health officials to better understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities. Testing also allows health officials to identify individuals who have the disease or can spread the disease to help prevent more transmission throughout the community.


Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat COVID-19. The best way the public can protect themselves, their family, and their community is by preventing exposure.


Earlier in the day, it was announced at the governor’s daily COVID-19 news briefing that over the past 24 hours, 50 Illinois residents had died and 1,980 new COVID-19 cases had emerged, bringing the state’s total number of deaths to 1,983 and total cases to 45,883.


Cases by day
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Officials also spoke of new COVID-19 symptoms identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


In addition to a fever, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, the additional symptoms include: muscle pain, repeated shaking with chills, headache, sore throat, and a loss of taste and smell.


For more information on coronavirus symptoms visit the CDC’s website at: cdc.gov.


Chris Green: cgreen@rrstar.com; @chrisfgreen