Vaccination clinic successful; Monroe County at 70 COVID deaths

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Monroe County hosted its first vaccination clinic for individuals in the 1b group Monday at the Monroe County Fairgrounds in Waterloo.

“The clinic went great,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said. “We gave out over 500 doses. It went pretty smoothly.”

Only those age 85 and older and medical personnel with direct patient contact were eligible for Monday’s clinic, and those individuals were required to register beforehand on EMTrack. To register, click here.

It appears most of that population got their first shot yesterday.

“We got through a lot,” Wagner said. “By the end of the day, we had a limited line with cars coming straight up to the vaccination site. Of course, there is always those who missed the clinic, but they’ll be able to come to any subsequent clinic and get it.” 

Wagner said the county had about 500 doses for members of the public, including some residents of neighboring counties.

On Tuesday, Wagner reported receiving an update from the Illinois Department of Public Health that counties can limit vaccination doses to only county residents, contrary to previous information.

“Future vaccination will be for Monroe County residents only. People who received a past vaccine in the county will receive their second dose,” Wagner explained.

“For future clinics, it’s not going to be as important (to pre-register) because we’re going to have a higher volume of doses. But for now, when the Code Red goes out, they need to register on EMTrack so they are guaranteed a dose,” Wagner said.

Healthcare workers receiving their second vaccine dose were encouraged to wait, as the county expects to receive a special shipment for them later this week. Long-term care facility residents and staff are already receiving the vaccine through their facility.

To sign up for Code Red emergency notifications informing of future vaccinations, click here.

Each person who gets the shot will get a vaccine record card showing the date they got the first dose and which vaccine they received.

After around four weeks, another Code Red alert will go out to remind people to get their second dose. They must show their card or a picture of it when getting the second shot so the health care workers know which vaccine they got and when they received it.

Several local residents who recently died from COVID-19 would have already or soon qualified for the vaccine.

Nine more Monroe County residents have died of the novel coronavirus in recent days, bringing the county’s death toll to 70.

On Tuesday, Wagner reported a man in his 80s not associated with a long-term care facility had died from the virus.

On Saturday, Wagner announced a male in his 70s not associated with a long-term care facility had died from the virus.

On Friday, he reported a man in his 80s not associated with a long-term care facility and a woman in her 90s at Garden Place in Waterloo had died.  

On Thursday, a 78-year-old man who was a resident of Garden Place in Waterloo was reported as the county’s 66th COVID-related death.

Three of the deaths were women in their 90s. Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner announced one of the deaths Wednesday and the other two Tuesday. The previous death was the death of a man in his 90s that Wagner reported Saturday. All four resided at Oak Hill Senior Living & Rehabilitation Center in Waterloo. 

Wagner was not too concerned about another outbreak at that facility like the one in October, though he said any cases at long-term care facilities are serious. 

“The two most recent deaths were fairly short-term cases, meaning they were diagnosed within a week of death,” he said Tuesday. “When you have COVID in these long-term care facilities, the outcome, percentage-wise, is a very high death rate.” 

These latest deaths came as Monroe County continued its efforts to vaccinate its population. 

The most recent shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine was administered to health care workers Monday at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. Wagner said all 100 shots were administered in around an hour. 

“We feel we’ve gotten a good portion of our health care workers done,” he noted. 

The state overall has as well, as Gov. JB Pritkzer announced this week that the 1b group can begin getting vaccinated starting Friday. 

The 1b group includes people age 65 and older and frontline essential workers like first responders, food and agriculture workers, grocery store employees and those working in education.

Wagner said Monroe County should begin receiving larger shipments of the vaccine in the next few weeks to accommodate that group. 

Another significant vaccine change came from the federal level, as the Donald Trump Administration announced it would start sending all doses of the vaccine out instead of keeping roughly half in reserve to ensure individuals get their second shot. 

That controversial move, which could speed vaccination progress but risks delays in people getting fully vaccinated, had been backed in recent days by leaders like Pritzker and President-elect Joe Biden.

“Vaccine delivery has been much slower than we anticipated, so it is imperative that the federal government distribute the vaccines it is holding on reserve,” Pritzker said. “These vaccines will save millions of Americans from the unnecessary danger and hardship of contracting COVID-19.” 

Per the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has received 1,085,950 doses of the vaccine and administered 508,732 of those. 

Just 108,479 people are fully vaccinated in the state so far, meaning just .85 percent of the state has gotten both shots. 

In Monroe County, 1,091 shots have been administered, but only 142 people have been completely inoculated. That means .41 percent of the county has been fully vaccinated. 

Wagner supported the distribution change. 

“I think it’s fine because I think the manufacturing is going to catch up,” he said. “I know that their idea was to hold back the doses, but, logistically, that’s just not going to work.”

Moving forward, Wagner said the priority will be getting people their second dose. 

“It would be nice if we could get our first dose into everybody and then move into the second dose, but the trial was 28 days (between shots),” Wagner explained. “They know it doesn’t make too much of a difference a couple days left or right of that, or even a week, but they don’t know what happens after three weeks or four weeks. So, you’ve got to get the second dose in people that need it.”

As vaccination continues, Monroe County recorded 297 new COVID cases since Jan. 6, putting the county’s overall total at 3,609.

There were 19 cases Tuesday, 12 cases Monday nine cases Sunday, 35 cases Saturday, 22 cases Friday, 23 cases Thursday and 27 new cases Wednesday.

The county recorded just 33 cases from Jan. 10-12, but Wagner did not anticipate that being the start of a trend. 

“I have no idea what’s going on. I’m waiting on a day to be 80-plus because, from what I’m hearing and seeing in the community, we haven’t had a drastic reduction,” he said.

The low daily case numbers may be from delays at state labs or facilities in Missouri, which Wagner said are becoming increasingly problematic in terms of reporting data to Illinois. 

There are 282 active cases in Monroe County at last count, including 29 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Overall, the Waterloo zip code has had 1,839 cases (18,278 tests performed), the Columbia zip code has had 1,381 cases (8,696 tests) and the Valmeyer zip code has had 142 cases (754 tests), according to the IDPH.

Monroe County’s seven-day rolling average test positivity rate was 8.6 percent as of Jan. 16.

In St. Clair County, there have been 24,431 total positive tests and 376 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 236,326 tests have been performed there. There have been 29 deaths there since Jan. 6. 

Randolph County has had 3,730 confirmed cases, 171 of which are active. Sixty-six people have died from the virus. There have been six deaths there since Jan. 6. 

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 8.8 percent on Jan. 16. The region has 20 percent of its ICU beds available.

Pritzker announced Friday that regions 1, 2 and 5 under the state’s mitigation plan will move to a less restrictive tier of mitigations, while the rest of the regions remain in the most restrictive tier.

Region 4, which includes Monroe County, does not have enough hospital capacity to move to the next tier.

Illinois overall is up to 1,076,532 cases of coronavirus and 18,291 deaths.

There are 3,335 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, including 713 people in ICU beds and 395 on ventilators.

Missouri has recorded 440,197 confirmed cases and 6,263 deaths. That includes 67,686 cases in St. Louis County and 17,569 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Nationally, more than 24.1 million people have contracted the virus, while at least 399,053 people have died.

Worldwide, there are over 95.6 million cases of coronavirus and over 2 million COVID-19-related deaths.

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