COVID crisis continues


Monroe County has now had 2,867 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began after reporting 238 since Dec. 15. It reported 261 the previous week. 

There were 31 new cases Tuesday, 13 new cases Monday, 56 new cases Sunday, 21 new cases Saturday, 32 new cases Friday and 47 new cases Thursday.

There are 22 residents hospitalized with the virus among the 338 active cases.

Monroe County recorded five more COVID-19 deaths in the past week. 

The most recent death was announced Wednesday. The deceased was male in his 70 not associated with a long-term care facility. This comes after two deaths were announced Monday. The deceased were men in their 80s and 70s

Before that, the death of a 77-year-old female was announced last Wednesday and the death of a 78-year-old male was announced Saturday. 

None of those individuals were associated with a long-term care facility. 

With these latest deaths, Monroe County’s COVID-related death toll sits at 56. 

There were two fewer deaths in the last week than in the seven days prior, and there were also slightly fewer cases. 

Now that it has been a little over two weeks since Thanksgiving, Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said it does not seem the county is seeing a post-holiday case surge like other major holidays. 

“I don’t think we’re seeing a surge like what was predicted,” Wagner said. “We are seeing a little bit of an increase in the hospitalizations, and we had a little bit of a jump in the deaths, which could indicate that we had some infection into some of the protected individuals who were being fairly cautious up to that point.” 

Wagner also pointed out the rise in deaths cannot be definitively pinned on Thanksgiving gatherings, as it may take another week or so for people who got the virus over the holiday to succumb to it. 

Wagner was not sure why the county, and for the most part Illinois overall, did not see a spike in cases, though he said at least some of it is probably attributable to people being more cautious over Thanksgiving. 

Nevertheless, cases are still much higher than they were for most of the year. 

Wagner said the prevalence of the virus led to him advising a local restaurant and bar to cancel a planned live music performance set for this weekend. Read more about that by clicking here.

The virus has also led the Columbia School District to have all students learn remotely Monday and Tuesday in an effort to “minimize the possibilities for quarantining individuals” over the holiday break. Immaculate Conception School in Columbia is doing the same.  

As the county continues seeking to identify cases, Wagner said another Illinois Department of Public Health mobile testing site will be set up at the Monroe County Annex this Monday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There have been a few of those sites at the annex, which is located at 901 Illinois Avenue in Waterloo, in recent weeks. 

Wagner said Monroe County has gotten most of the results from those events. 

“We’re seeing about what the state average is as far as positives coming in,” he said. “There’s nothing shocking with the numbers coming in.” 

The most notable development from the testing sites, per Wagner, is that more people who are sick are testing negative. 

“We are starting to see a little bit more symptomatic people not testing positive for COVID, meaning there is some other flu and some other illness that’s going around,” Wagner explained. “If people have symptoms, they really need to get tested. Don’t attribute it to something else. Don’t just assume ‘I don’t really think it’s COVID,’ because that’s a bad assumption.” 

The mobile testing site will arrive in Monroe County a few days before the first doses of vaccine. Read more about the vaccine by clicking here.

Overall, the Waterloo zip code has had 1,438 cases (14,628 tests performed), the Columbia zip code has had 1,143 cases (6,785 tests) and the Valmeyer zip code has had 107 cases (604 tests), according to the IDPH.

The IDPH on Friday listed Monroe County, along with all but eight counties in the state, as being at the warning level for COVID-19.

For the week of Dec. 6, the county had 635 cases per 100,000 residents (the goal is less than 50), 7 deaths (the goal is a decreasing or stable number), a test positivity rate of 13.4 percent (the goal is less than or equal to 8 percent), performed 1,603 tests (the goal is to do enough to meet the positivity rate) and 17.6 percent of ICU beds available (the goal is at least 20 percent).

In St. Clair County, there have been 19,463 total positive tests and 305 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 196,085 tests have been performed there.

Randolph County has had 3,034 confirmed cases, 205 of which are active. Thirty-nine people have died from the virus in that county. That county should got its first vaccine shipment this week. 

The metro east, including these counties and Monroe County, has seen its test positivity rate remain well over the level at which mitigations are imposed. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate was 11.6 percent on Dec. 19. The region has only 15 percent of its medical or surgical beds available and 17 percent of its ICU beds.

Illinois overall is up to 911,308 cases of coronavirus and 15,414 deaths.

There are 4,460 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, including 981 people in ICU beds and 557 on ventilators.

Missouri has recorded 370,439 confirmed cases and 5,158 deaths. That includes 57,058 cases in St. Louis County and 15,032 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Nationally, more than 18.1 million people have contracted the virus, while at least 321,631 people have died.

Worldwide, there are over 77.7 million cases of coronavirus and over 1.7 million COVID-19-related deaths.

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