COVID receding locally

By virtually every metric, the coronavirus pandemic is at its least severe in Monroe County in roughly a year or more. 

The county recorded just seven more COVID-19 cases since May 12, putting its total at 4,394 since the pandemic began. 

Only 11 cases are active – the lowest total since last summer – and just one resident is hospitalized with the virus. 

In addition, the Illinois Department of Public Health reports that Monroe County’s seven-day rolling average test positivity rate was 1.8 percent on May 22.

“It’s not nothing yet,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said of the virus, noting the county probably has a few unknown positive cases from people who tested for the virus in Missouri. “But it’s definitely way, way, way down. That’s a good thing.” 

One reason Monroe County is faring so well is that it remains one of the top counties in the state in terms of percent fully vaccinated. 

The IDPH reports Monroe County has administered 28,921 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. There are 14,220 people fully vaccinated here – meaning 41.42 percent of the county has received all its shots. 

Wagner argues that, with Illinois entering the Bridge Phase of its reopening plan Friday, that means the county is basically back to business as usual since vaccinated people do not count toward capacity limits. 

“Since 40 percent of the people in Monroe County are vaccinated, if you have 100 people in a place and their capacity is 100, you figure 40 of those people, at least, are going to be vaccinated,” he said. “So then you’re counting only 60, which is that 60 percent capacity. The only issue then is social distancing.”

“We can pretty much be wide open with most things,” Wagner advised. 

For those who are fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last Thursday that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances.

The CDC recommends unvaccinated people continue wearing a mask because they can still catch the virus and pass it along to others, and are more likely to have a severe case.

The county’s vaccination numbers will rise slightly after it held two first-dose clinics Monday, one for adults 18 and older and one for residents 12-19 only. 

That latter clinic came after the CDC recommended use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12-15. 

Wagner did not anticipate the demand in that age group being that high, and that appears true after the clinic. 

“It was kind of what we expected,” he said of turnout. “It wasn’t a complete bust, but it definitely was not a ton of them coming out.” 

Illinois overall has administered 10,940,769 doses of the vaccine and received over 12.8 million doses. A total of 5,085,890 residents have gotten both shots, which means 39.92 percent of Illinois is fully vaccinated.

Overall, the Waterloo zip code has had 2,230 COVID-19 cases (28,227 tests performed), the Columbia zip code has had 1,674 cases (12,603 tests) and the Valmeyer zip code has had 170 cases (1,149 tests), according to the IDPH.

The seven-day rolling average positivity rate for the metro east was 2.6 percent on May 21. The region has 31 percent of its ICU staffed beds available.

In St. Clair County, there have been 31,009 total positive tests and 479 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 359,523 tests have been performed there.

Randolph County has had 4,167 confirmed cases, 12 of which are active. Eighty-six people have died from the virus there.

Illinois overall is up to 1,376,441 cases of coronavirus and 22,633 deaths. There are 1,417 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, including 334 people in ICU beds.

Missouri has recorded 509,641 confirmed cases and 9,006 deaths. That includes 81,631 cases in St. Louis County and 21,505 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Nationally, more than 33.1 million people have contracted the virus, while at least 589,517 people have died.

Worldwide, there have been over 167.1 million cases of coronavirus and over 3.4 million COVID-19-related deaths.

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James Moss

James is an alumni of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mass communications and applied communications studies. While in school, he interned at two newspapers and worked at a local grocery store to pay for his education. When not working for the Republic-Times, he enjoys watching movies, reading, playing video games and spending time with his friends.
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