As all regions of Illinois lessened restrictions, Monroe County reported more cases of coronavirus – including three at a senior living facility and another death.
There are now 104 cases of coronavirus here, up from 93 last Tuesday.
The 12th death in the county was reported May 30, though it may be removed from the overall total as more information is gathered.
“(The) new death was a public positive who was quarantined at home and had a fall,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner explained. “She was then taken to a hospital and passed away a few days after the fall. Since she was a positive, it will go in our count until reviewed and may change.”
Three of the newest cases come from Cedarhurst Senior Living at 526 Legacy Drive in Waterloo. An employee tested positive late last week and now a resident of the senior care facility has also tested positive. Another employee tested positive late this week.
“Cedarhurst is working with the Monroe County Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health to respond to the outbreak and is taking every precaution to prevent the spread in the facility,” Wagner said.
In a letter dated May 29 to residents, families and friends, Cedarhurst Living President and Co-Founder Josh Stevens said the employee will remain isolated in their home and will not return to work until they have two negative COVID-19 tests and are asympotomatic for 72 hours.
“The positive employee works in the assisted living building, so we are confident that the exposure was mitigated in the memory care building,” the letter states.
The memory care building is at 518 Legacy Drive.
Due to the positive tests, all Cedarhurst residents are being quarantined to their rooms. Cedarhurst also offered to test all residents and staff on Monday.
Cedarhurst is the third senior care facility in Monroe County to report COVID-19 cases.
Garden Place Senior Living in Columbia and Oak Hill Senor Living and Rehabilitation in Waterloo have also had cases. The former facility has had 10 deaths, while the latter has reported only three workers have tested positive.
According to the IDPH, there are 44 confirmed cases of the virus in the Columbia zip code (187 tests performed), 52 in the Waterloo zip code (319 tests performed) and nine in the Valmeyer zip code (40 tests performed).
Fifty-six people have recovered from the virus in Monroe County so far, according to Wagner. Eight are hospitalized.
The total amount of tests performed on Monroe County residents through private labs and in Missouri, however, is not known.
As the virus continues its slow spread, Waterloo and Columbia took steps to allow businesses to operate and protect patrons.
The Columbia City Council on Monday night approved measures to allow outdoor services for restaurants and taverns during Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois reopening plan.
The resolution establishes “temporary outdoor seating regulations for dining and drinking establishments” that will allow businesses to use public sidewalks and off-street parking spaces for customers and protocols for utilizing side streets on weekends.
“The idea here is to allow restaurants to operate (where) limited by zoning,” Columbia Director of Community Development Scott Dunakey said, explaining the resolution will “temporarily waive requirements and allow permits” for operation.
While permits were not required for the first weekend of Phase 3 – which was this past weekend – any business who wishes to use special outdoor seating will need to apply with the city through its special events permit process. Permit fees have been waived.
Some of the outdoor seating requirements include seating of six customers or fewer per table and no smoking allowed.
Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson noted the city would make the process as “fast and expedient as possible,” giving the permits staff-level approval, thereby eliminating the need for the city council to vote on every permit.
Hutchinson also said some businesses on Main Street would be allowed to use side streets on an “as-needed basis” during weekend evenings with approval from Columbia Police Department Chief Jerry Paul and Columbia Department of Public Works to allow for time to place barricades.
Hutchinson added side streets would likely be reopened after dark since lighting and safety concerns would eliminate the possibility of nighttime side street closure.
Similarly, the Waterloo City Council on Monday approved an amendment to its code of ordinances dealing with outdoor dining in an effort to accommodate local restaurants and taverns.
The amendment calls for businesses desiring to allow consumption of food or alcohol products on a street or alley in the blocks of Main Street, Mill Street or Third Street to first obtain a permit from the zoning administrator.
Conditions include that outdoor dining be confined to the front street or side alley of the business and the businesses provide proof of insurance, site plans depicting location of the outdoor tables, 42-inch crowd control fencing with traffic cones at each corner and sufficient trash receptacles.
Any permit issued will expire upon the expiration of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Phase 3 protocols and guidelines, the amendment states.
Waterloo businesses that had previously operated outdoor dining facilities may continue to do so under proper social distancing guidelines.
No issues were reported in regard to how businesses handled outdoor dining this past weekend.
“I enjoyed dining downtown this weekend,” Waterloo Alderman Steve Notheisen said.
These measures are meant to help minimize the spread of the virus so the region can move to the fourth phase of the plan as soon as possible.
As with moving to the third phase, a region must have a test positive rate under 20 percent that is increasing by no more than 10 percentage points over 14 days, no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illnesses for 28 days and surge capacity of at least 14 percent for ICU, medical and surgical beds and ventilators.
The southern region has a positivity rate of 4 percent, a 1 percent decrease in positivity rates, and a 47 percent drop in hospital admissions for coronavirus-like illnesses in the last 14-28 days.
The region has a 47 percent medical and surgical bed capacity, 47 percent ICU bed availability and 82 percent ventilator availability.
A region must be also able to test anyone regardless of symptoms or risk factors and have contact tracing and monitoring begin within 24 hours of diagnosis for more than 90 percent of cases.
Meeting those criteria may prove more difficult.
Wagner told the Monroe County Board on Monday that contact tracing is going well in the county, with added Monroe County Health Department staff being assigned to keep up with this issue late into the night and back first thing in the morning.
“The longer a ‘positive’ is in the community before being notified, the more likely it may create more contacts,” Wagner said.
He said his department is currently seeing five to 10 new positive contacts a week in Monroe County, with very few outside of the health care field.
“We are seeing virtually no contact issues involving people meeting others outside or for short times, even indoors,” he said.
Wagner said some counties in this region are having problems keeping track of contacts, however.
Contact tracing can be particularly difficult in counties with more cases and higher populations, such as St. Clair County.
There are 1,490 confirmed cases, including 112 coronavirus-related deaths in that county. A total of 9,855 people have been tested there.
Randolph County now has 277 confirmed cases, only five of which are active. Six people have died from the virus, 266 have recovered and one is hospitalized with it in that county.
Statewide, there are 129,212 cases of coronavirus and 6,018 deaths, according to the IDPH.
The state reported 797 new cases and 95 new deaths on Tuesday. There were 658 additional cases and 23 additional deaths on Monday. There were 867 more cases 43 more deaths on Sunday. There were 975 new cases and 72 new deaths on Saturday. There were 1,156 additional cases and 59 additional deaths on Friday. There were 929 more cases and 116 more deaths on Thursday. There were 982 new cases and 97 new deaths on Wednesday.
In Missouri, there were 14,913 confirmed cases and 840 deaths as of Tuesday. That includes 5,123 cases in St. Louis County and 1,961 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.
Nationally, more than 1,970,613 people had contracted the virus as of Saturday afternoon, while 110,966 people have died from it.
Woldwide, there are over 7.1 million cases of coronavirus and at least 406,594 COVID-19-related deaths.