COVID spike continues

Monroe County is seeing an average of about 15 new COVID-19 cases a day, with 115 active cases and three people hospitalized as of Wednesday. 

The number of new cases each day is “slowly growing,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said. In previous weeks, the number of new cases per day bounced between 10-15. There have been 57 new COVID cases reported in Monroe County since Friday.

Of the last 15 cases reported to the local health department, 10 have been found in people ages 11 and under, Wagner said. 

“If this trend holds true, school will be a very difficult situation,” Wagner said, just a day after he attended the Waterloo school board meeting and told parents about how the Delta variant carries an increased viral load. 

Illinois Department of Public Health Community Transmission data is still classifying Monroe County as an area of high transmission as of Tuesday. This is on par with the numbers from the past several weeks. 

The threshold to be considered an area of “high transmission” is a seven-day rolling average positivity rate of 10 percent or above. Tuesday’s data shows Monroe County sits at 11.37 percent. 

IDPH data shows 49.71 percent (17,069 residents) of those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Monroe County are fully vaccinated. In comparison, 39.12 percent of Randolph County and 44.69 percent of St. Clair County is fully vaccinated.

Since last print, one new Monroe County COVID death was reported, bringing the IDPH total to 96. Wagner said the most recent death was a man in his 80s who was not hospitalized. 

“To date, we have had no fully vaccinated people die,” Wagner stressed. 

With this, Wagner is continuing to encourage those wanting to get vaccinated to do it now. 

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended select people with weakened immune systems get a third “booster” shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The announcement came less than 24 hours after the FDA extended the emergency use to third shots. 

The CDC said those included in this select group of people are those who are receiving active cancer treatment for cancers of the blood or tumors, taking immunosuppressant medications as a result of an organ transplant, living with HIV or are undergoing high-dose corticosteroid treatment. 

Individuals wishing to have a third vaccine dose must also be 18 or older. 

The CDC said those now eligible to receive the third dose make up less than 3 percent of the population. 

Wagner estimates a “couple hundred” Monroe County residents fall into this category, however, this number may increase once the department receives clarification on what constitutes a high-dose steroid. 

In order to receive a third dose at the Monroe County Health Department, one must obtain permission from their doctor, Wagner said. 

“If a doctor says that you meet one of these underlying conditions and he wants you to have a shot, he can write you a note and you can bring it in here and we will get you the shot,” Wagner said. 

Once the third dose is approved for emergency use for the rest of the population, Wagner said the health department will then set up mass booster vaccine clinics. He said he believes the third dose will be recommended as an eight-month booster. 

“They are going to start rolling that out much like they did with the initial phase of (the vaccines),” Wagner said. “First, booster doses are going to go into nursing homes, then they’re going to be for the other elderly and then it’s going to open up to the general population.” 

For those looking to get their first or second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine – or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine – the Monroe County Health Department is hosting a vaccine clinic at its office this Thursday from 4-6 p.m. Call or text 618-612-6404 or 618-340-4819 to make an appointment. 

Third doses will not be available at the clinic. 

Other places to get vaccinated locally include Waterloo Walmart, CVS Pharmacy in Columbia and inside Waterloo Schnucks, and the Columbia and Waterloo Walgreens.

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Madison Lammert

Madison is a reporter at the Republic-Times. She has over six years of experience in journalistic writing. Madison is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mass communications. Before graduating and working at the Republic-Times, Madison worked for SIUE’s student newspaper, The Alestle, for many years. During her time there she filled many roles, including editor-in-chief. When she is not working, she likes to spend time with her dog and try new restaurants across the river.
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