COVID death count at 100 in Monroe County

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Monroe County reached a grim milestone Thursday when it recorded its 100th death from the novel coronavirus.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner reported two deaths Thursday.

One of those people was an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 in October and lived in a long-term care facility before dying last month. The other person fell into the same category but died March 1.

“Again, I am unsure if we are classifying COVID deaths as cause of death or just people who have passed and were positive in the past,” Wagner said.

Monroe County has recorded seven COVID-related deaths since March 3, one of which was a man in his 80s who died in October but whose death was only being counted here now because he lived at Integrity Healthcare of Columbia and was moved to another facility shortly before his death.

Another death was a woman in her 70s who did not live at a long-term care facility. 

The other three deaths — of a man in his 80s, a man in his 90s and a woman in her 90s — were all from Cedarhurst in Waterloo. That facility had an outbreak of the virus right as the vaccines began rolling out, which Wagner said is what these deaths stem from. 

The people who died were not fully vaccinated, either because they had only gotten one dose or had not had the 14 days to develop antibodies after the second dose, per Wagner. 

“They were not fully protected,” he said. 

In addition to the Cedarhurst deaths, the Illinois Department of Public Health lists 11 deaths at Garden Place Senior Living in Columbia, three at Garden Place Senior Living in Waterloo, 12 at Integrity Healthcare of Columbia, 25 at Oak Hill Senior Living and one at Reflections at Garden Place.

The first COVID-related death for Monroe County occurred April 6, 2020.

In good news, Monroe County has another COVID-19 vaccine clinic tentatively scheduled for Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. 

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said the county should get around 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to distribute as first doses. 

“Until we actually get the vaccine in hand, we don’t like to promote it too much because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Wagner told the Republic-Times Tuesday afternoon. “We have not received the shipment yet. Hopefully we’ll get that tomorrow.” 

Assuming the clinic happens as plans, any county resident ages 18-64 with qualifying medical conditions, age 65 and older, and essential workers like health care workers and educators can get their first shot. 

Health conditions that make someone eligible are obesity, diabetes, pulmonary disease, smoking, heart conditions, chronic kidney disease, cancer, organ transplant, sickle cell and pregnancy. 

Monroe County had one of its busiest weeks last week in terms of vaccinating residents against the novel coronavirus. 

The Monroe County Health Department hosted clinics Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the state made an error and sent approximately an extra 1,000 doses here. An estimated 2,500 first doses were administered over the three days. About 1,200 shots were given Wednesday.

“We’re starting to make somewhat of a dent in the older population,” Wagner said. 

For these clinics, Wagner made eligibility requirements less stringent by dropping the initial age requirement from 70 to 65 and above and allowing residents ages 16-64 with pre-existing conditions to get their first dose. 

Individuals with obesity, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, heart conditions, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease and those who smoke or have had a solid organ transplant all qualify for the shot in this group. 

Wagner said he made the decision to expand eligibility because demand was low and he could not store the Pfizer and Moderna shots. 

“The line was getting shorter,” he explained. “It wasn’t that we were getting through this group.” 

Wagner said it was more likely that people who are in this phase are still working and could not come in the middle of a weekday, so he anticipates offering alternate times for future clinics. 

That will be necessary because Wagner estimated Monroe County would be vaccinating people who fall into the above categories or who work in education, public works, or health care “for the foreseeable future.” 

Although the fact the county got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines necessitated changing eligibility requirements on the day of or just before these clinics, Wagner said he will not change his efforts to get doses here. 

“We’re just going to try to get whatever we can,” he said. 

That will not include the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which Wagner had predicted the county might receive as early as next week. Now, he does not anticipate getting that vaccine until April because Illinois recently learned it would not get another shipment until the end of the month. 

Some individuals have indicated they want to wait for that shot, which Wagner did not advise. 

“That’s a personal decision, but you should really be getting the first shot you can,” he said. 

Monroe County has now had 4,161 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic. There were just 72 new cases since March 3. 

Roughly 93 cases remain active, with just three local residents hospitalized with the virus.

After the latest vaccination efforts, the IDPH reports Monroe County has administered 12,540 doses of COVID vaccine. There are 4,683 people fully vaccinated here – meaning 13.64 percent of the county has received both shots.

Illinois overall has administered 4,181,097 doses of the vaccine and received over 5.3 million doses. A total of 1,563,294 residents have gotten both shots, which means 12.27 percent of Illinois is fully vaccinated.

Another opportunity for vaccination is the VA St. Louis Health Care System, which announced last week that it has eliminated age requirements for enrolled veterans to get the shots.

Overall, the Waterloo zip code has had 2,122 cases (24,483 tests performed), the Columbia zip code has had 1,582 cases (10,379 tests) and the Valmeyer zip code has had 159 cases (925 tests), according to the IDPH.

Monroe County’s seven-day rolling average test positivity rate was 3.5 percent on March 13.

The seven-day rolling average positivity rate for the metro east was 3.3 percent on March 13. The region has 36 percent of its ICU staffed beds available.

In St. Clair County, there have been 28,829 total positive tests and 462 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 300,729 tests have been performed there.

Randolph County has had 4,018 confirmed cases, 10 of which are active. Eighty-two people have died from the virus there.

Illinois overall is up to 1,212,110 cases of coronavirus and 20,973 deaths.

There are 1,112 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, including 250 people in ICU beds and 124 on ventilators.

Missouri has recorded 484,124 confirmed cases and 8,350 deaths. That includes 75,476 cases in St. Louis County and 19,535 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Nationally, more than 29.5 million people have contracted the virus, while at least 535,997 people have died.

Worldwide, there are over 120.4 million cases of coronavirus and over 2.6 million COVID-19-related deaths. 

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