Monroe County has 18 coronavirus cases; reports first death

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first-deathCaution tape surrounds playground equipment at William Zimmer Park on Rogers Street in Waterloo. Playgrounds are off limits as part of social distancing requirements enforced through a state issued stay at home order due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Monroe County is now reporting 18 cases of coronavirus – including its first death – as the pandemic continues to change daily life for everyone.

On Tuesday morning, Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner announced the county’s first coronavirus-related death was a man in his 80s who died on Monday. The man was one of the previously reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the county.

Wagner said it is still being determined whether or not the deceased had an underlying health condition.

Tuesday afternoon, Wagner announced that two females in their 60s and a male in his 80s have also tested positive for the virus. One of those females is hospitalized.

Columbia EMS Chief Kim Lamprecht announced one positive case at Garden Place Senior Living, located at 480 DD Road, during Monday’s Columbia City Council meeting. She also said there are “potentially more” and that all residents at the facility are under isolation and quarantine precautions.

Lamprecht also urged anyone who is in a public place to wear a face mask for their own protection and the safety of others.

Spokesperson Amira Fahoum of Compass Senior Living, the parent company for Garden Place, confirmed Tuesday that the Columbia facility has two positive cases.

“We have reached out to state and local health authorities and are following appropriate guidance from the federal, state, and local level. Currently, we are working with Monroe County and the Illinois Health Authority in our response and measures being taken at this time include additional precautionary testing of residents and employees,” Fahoum said.

Lambrecht also released a communication that has been shared with Columbia EMS, fire and police departments. The release described modified procedures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including limiting dispatch of emergency personnel to critical needs situations.

Cases announced earlier Monday were a woman in her 50s, a woman in her 20s, a man in his 60s who is the spouse of a previously confirmed local positive case and another woman in her 50s who has since recovered.

Wagner said his office received late notification of that final case, but she completed the required quarantine as directed by medical personnel and is now free to resume normal activities.

The 10th confirmed case in Monroe County came Saturday and is a woman in her 80s who is not hospitalized. She had been in contact with a previously confirmed local positive case, Wagner said.

On Friday, Wagner said a man in his 50s, a woman in her 50s and a teenaged male tested positive and all three had known contact with previous positive cases.

Wagner said his department is currently tracking about 80-100 residents who had been in contact with these known local cases and encourages anyone who tests positive in the future be be forthcoming with their whereabouts.

“People need to be honest with us if they are positive,” Wagner said, adding that while Monroe County coronavirus patients have done well, other counties have had troubles. “We need to know who you’ve had contact with. We want to stop the spread.”

In addition to the newest case that was reported late, three of the county’s earlier confirmed cases have since recovered, Wagner said. It is believed that two of the local cases remain hospitalized.

As in Monroe County, the number of positive cases in nearby counties continues to rise. 

Neighboring St. Clair County now has 94 positive cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. The fourth death was reported Monday and was a woman in her 70s with an underlying health issue. The third death, a man in his 70s, also had underlying health conditions. The earlier deceased in St. Clair County were women in their 80s and 30s with underlying health issues. There have been 654 people tested in the county as of Monday, with 423 negative results and 139 tests pending. The affected residents are in the zip codes covering Belleville, Swansea, Fairview Heights, O’Fallon, Shiloh, Cahokia, Centreville and Sauget.

Randolph County has 31 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, with the affected residents in the Red Bud, Prairie du Rocher, Steeleville, Sparta and Chester zip codes. Of these cases, six residents have fully recovered and can resume normal activity.  

Randolph County Health Department Administrator Angela Oathout told the North County News last week that during an investigation of the recent confirmed cases, it “learned of a public group gathering where some of the confirmed cases in our county had attended and participated. It was before the governor’s executive order to shelter in place but during the time of strong recommendations from the governor’s office to stop all social and group gatherings.”

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have been 13,549 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 380 deaths as of Tuesday. There were 1,287 new cases announced Tuesday. There were 1,006 new cases reported Monday. There were 1,453 new cases and 33 deaths announced Saturday, which was the highest single-day surge of cases in Illinois. There were 899 cases and 31 deaths reported Sunday.

The IDPH reported 86 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths are among patients 60 and older. 

Last week, Gov. JB Pritzker announced an extension of the state’s stay at home order through April 30.

Under the extended order, which was set to expire April 7, schools will continue to use e-learning to educate students, non-essential businesses will remain closed and essential businesses like restaurants will still have restrictions. 

“We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve,” Pritzker said. 

Pritzker criticized the federal government’s response during remarks on Thursday.

“I’m honestly upset about the lack of early action on a national basis. This will go down in history as a profound failure of our national government,” Pritzker said. “I’m telling you this because in terms of state actions, state orders, we’ve nearly exhausted every avenue available. Now the rest is up to you.”

Just across the river in Missouri, there are 3,037 cases and 53 deaths, the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services reported. While St. Louis city and county residents have been under a stay at home order for some time, the entire state is now under a shelter in place order effective Monday.

The United States leads the world in reported coronavirus cases with more than 380,000. Deaths have risen to at least 11,931, which means more people have died from COVID-19 than who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

Worldwide, there are more than 1.3 million coronavirus cases in at least 177 nations. Over 77,000 of those people have died from the illness.

There are two nearby drive-thru testing sites for coronavirus. 

 Red Bud Regional Hospital is offering a drive-thru screening site. This is for anyone who has been identified as a high-risk patient requiring COVID-19 testing. Those patients will receive a doctor’s order if they meet the criteria and are pre-authorized with specific instructions to use the testing, the hospital said. Those experiencing symptoms should call their primary care provider for guidance or call the hospital’s emergency room at 618-282-5165.

Memorial Hospital has a drive-thru testing site available in Swansea. People will only be allowed to go to the site if they have prior authorization from their doctor or local health department, however. 

As the pandemic continues to worsen, individuals can help in several ways. 

Most important is to continue to follow social distancing guidelines and the state’s stay at home order to help slow the spread of the virus. 

Using data provided by mobile devices, a Norwegian company called Unacast is tracking how well countries are doing with social distancing – down to the county level – using the metric of decrease in average distance traveled. To view this “social distancing scorecard,” click here.

The U.S. has an A with a 40 percent decrease in average distance traveled, as does Monroe County. Illinois has a B with a decrease of 30-40 percent. 

Starting Thursday, the Waterloo Walmart is controlling access to its store by allowing only a certain amount of shoppers inside at one time. Only the grocery entrance to the store will be open.

Another way to help in these trying times is to donate medical supplies to hospitals, which are starting to become overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Wagner urged any businesses who have N95 masks and other personal protective equipment they are willing to donate to bring them to the Monroe County Health Department, as emergency responders and senior living communities are reporting a shortage. 

To contact the health department, call 618-939-3871.

N95 masks cover the nose and mouth and help protect the wearer from breathing in hazardous substances. PPE includes items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits. 

BJC HealthCare and other hospitals are also asking for donations for items like surgical masks, respirators, infrared and forehead thermometers with disposable covers, footwear covers, disposable isolation gowns, Tyvek contamination suits, face shields or industrial grinding shields with head harness sand plastic shield, goggles or eye protection, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and nasopharyngeal swabs.

 The closest places to drop off those donations are at either Memorial Hospital in St. Clair County. 

A final way healthy individuals can help is by donating blood, as there is a severe shortage due to blood drive cancellations in response to the pandemic. 

To schedule an appointment to safely give blood through the American Red Cross, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.  

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