COVID case spike continues


Monroe County has continued to see rising coronavirus cases in recent days. 

The county has had 1,345 total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with 240 of them currently active.

There have been 387 new cases in Monroe County since Oct. 27. Eleven residents are currently hospitalized with the virus. 

There were 40 new cases reported Tuesday, 40 reported Monday, 32 reported Sunday, 42 reported Saturday, 35 reported Friday, 34 reported Thursday, 12 reported Wednesday and 16 cases reported last Tuesday.

“It’s concerning, but people just need to do their best,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said of the upward trend in cases. “People just need to be smart and protect themselves.”

Four more Monroe County residents recently died from COVID-19, Wagner announced late this week.

Wagner announced the fourth death of the week Saturday. The person was connected with Integrity Healthcare of Columbia.

A death reported Friday was a woman in her 70s who did not appear to be connected to a long-term care facility, while a death reported Thursday was a resident at Integrity Healthcare of Columbia. Another death reported Thursday was someone who lived at Oak Hill Senior Living & Rehabilitation in Waterloo.

The Integrity death on Thursday was an earlier one that had not been previously attributed to this county, Wagner explained. The death at Oak Hill was a resident who had the novel coronavirus, appeared to recover from it, went back into the general population, then recently died.

Given how recent the person had the virus, Wagner said the death is currently being attributed to COVID-19 by the state.

“If you’ve had COVID and die anytime in the near future, you’re going to be classified a COVID death,” he said.

Monroe County’s death toll now stands at 39, per the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

Every region in the state have some limitations in place due to rising cases or hospitalizations. Illinois overall is up to 511,183 cases of coronavirus and 10,289 deaths after multiple days of over 6,000 new cases and one day of more than 10,000 cases. 

The IDPH reports 4,409 people in Illinois are in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 857 were in the ICU and 376 patients were on ventilators.

Given the rise in all numbers statewide, Gov. JB Pritzker said the entire state may soon have more restrictions imposed.

“If the current trajectory continues, if our hospitals continue to fill up, if more and more people continue to lose their lives to this disease, we’re going to implement further statewide mitigations, which nobody – and I mean nobody – wants,” Pritzker said Thursday.

One resident at Cedarhurst Senior Living and one resident and one employee at Oak Hill were among the new COVID cases locally on Thursday.

Among the new cases were six previous ones from Integrity Healthcare of Columbia, which moves its residents with COVID-19 to locations in Carbondale or Alton because those facilities have dedicated wings for people with the virus.

Monroe County’s death count also rose by six on Monday for similar reasons, per Wagner.

“All additional deaths were from Integrity over the past five weeks,” he said. “These were not counted at times of deaths because they were located outside the county. The state has adjusted reporting to make sure these are captured.”

Wagner said there was “drastic confusion” about how to count cases and deaths from places like that Columbia facility.

The state has now developed guidelines saying a person who contracts the virus within 14 days of moving to a new facility will still be counted as a case for their old zip code. If that person dies, the death is attributed to the old zip code if they die within 24 days of being transferred. 

“It doesn’t change anything,” Wagner said of the guidelines. “These people still died from COVID.” 

Cedarhurst Senior Living, located at 518 Legacy Drive in Waterloo, also saw a jump in COVID cases, though not for clerical reasons. 

Twelve people – nine residents and three staff members – have tested positive for the virus at that facility, though Wagner said it appears to be under control there. 

That is what the facility itself emphasized. 

“We believe the virus entered our memory care community after a resident visited their doctor,” Samantha Prinster of Cedarhurst said. “After testing this resident upon their return, we learned they were positive for COVID-19. This initiated a mass swab of all residents and staff.

“Of the nine residents, two are showing symptoms. The residents remain at the community, quarantined in their own apartments. The three positive employees who tested positive remain home on paid sick leave while recovering. We credit vigilant testing and safety protocols for catching this early and stopping the spread of the virus in Cedarhurst of Waterloo.”

Wagner also said it appears Oak Hill Senior Living & Rehabilitation Center in Waterloo has its outbreak under control, with only one new case being reported there in the past week. 

“At Oak Hill, I think it’s starting to get under control,” he said. “I think it will be over shortly there with no new cases.”

Monroe County schools are another community hub experiencing COVID cases, though Wagner said there have not been outbreaks. 

“We’re going to have cases pop up here and there in the schools from here on out,” he said. “Obviously, I’ll report if I think we have anything going on. We have cases in just about every school.”

So far, Wagner said most people who have been quarantined from schools are teachers who contract the coronavirus or students in close contact with someone who tests positive. 

The virus is rarely spreading to other people in the school, which Wagner credited to everyone wearing masks and following social distancing protocol as much as possible. 

“Overall, it doesn’t seem to be spreading through the schools,” he said. 

The latest reported case in a school was at Immaculate Conception School in Columbia, which emailed parents Sunday to inform them a cohort of students would be quarantined after a staff member in pre-kindergarten tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are also in a precautionary role with the pre-school cohort until further information is available,” ICS Principal Mike Kish wrote. “We are being aggressive in trying to make sure we minimize any spread of the virus.”

Overall, the Waterloo zip code has had 697 cases (9,105 tests performed), the Columbia zip code has had 525 cases (3,258 tests) and the Valmeyer zip code has had 57 cases (388 tests), according to the IDPH. 

JV’s Downtown Bar & Grill in Waterloo announced it will be closed at least until Nov. 11 due to a COVID situation.

Monroe County learned Friday it did again made the IDPH list of counties at the warning level for the virus, along with 74 other counties. 

For the week of Oct. 25, Monroe County had 431 cases per 100,000 people (the goal is 50 or fewer), a positivity rate of 10.7 percent (the goal is less than or equal to 8 percent) and performed enough 853 tests (the goal is to do enough tests to meet the positivity rate target). It met all other criteria.

Like Monroe County, the metro east, state, Midwest and country are also seeing a resurgence of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

In St. Clair County, there have been 10,676 total positive tests and 230 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 127,480 tests have been performed there.

Randolph County has had 1,565 confirmed cases, 143 of which are active. Nineteen people have died from the virus in that county. A total of 17,430 tests have been performed there.

The metro east region, including Monroe County, has seen its test positivity rate continue to rise even after the state imposed mitigations to curb the spread of the virus last week. 

The seven-day rolling average positivity rate was 12.7 percent on Nov. 7, marking the 18th consecutive day of it being over 8 percent, the threshold for new restrictions being imposed. 

Neighboring Missouri has recorded 216,697 confirmed cases and 3,299 deaths. That includes 33,792 cases in St. Louis County and 9,434 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Hospital admissions related to COVID-19 hit a record high in St. Louis on Thursday, according to data from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. The task force reported a record of 94 new COVID-19 hospital admissions Thursday, which caused the seven-day moving average to soar to 69 – another record high.

Nationally, more than 10.2 million people have contracted the virus, while at least 239,534 people have died. The country reported over 100,000 new cases in a single day for the first time this week. 

Worldwide, there are over 51.2 million cases of coronavirus and over 1.2 million COVID-19-related deaths.

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