Chilly weather could mean more COVID cases

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Monroe County Health Department reported 62 active cases on Friday, a decrease from Wednesday’s 78.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said last week’s increase in cases is on par with the state’s overall trend, attributing the increase to holiday celebrations and colder weather keeping people indoors. He said as winter comes, he is expecting to see another increase, but is hoping it is not a “surge.”

“The whole state has seen an increase over the past 1.5 weeks,” he said. 

He anticipates the number of active cases will stay around 62 throughout the winter months, provided there are not any sudden upticks, he said.

The health department is aware of only one hospitalization from the county and 105 total COVID-related deaths.

The latter has remained the same since the beginning of the month. 

The Monroe County Health Department is rolling out the Pfizer COVID vaccine for younger kids, but so far there has not been a large number of takers. 

Children ages 5-11 are eligible for a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and with this recent approval, the health department has hosted clinics at each local district in Monroe County. 

A Monday afternoon clinic at Valmeyer School District saw 26 shots administered, a small percent of the district’s 5-11-year-olds, Wagner said. 

Tuesday’s clinic for ages 5-11 at Columbia’s Parkview Elementary saw 100 shots administered and Wednesday’s clinic at Waterloo’s Zahnow Elementary saw roughly the same number.

Those still looking to vaccinate their little ones may set up an appointment with the health department.

He said there was one individual handing out information regarding COVID vaccine skepticism at the Valmeyer clinic. 

Wagner said he is confident the vaccine is safe for kids, otherwise the health department would not be administering it, but he understands there is a lot of skepticism surrounding kid COVID-19 shots. 

“She has the right to hand out whatever she’d like,” he said, adding it is ultimately the parent or guardians’ choice to vaccinate or not to vaccinate their child. 

As of Friday, Illinois Department of Public Health data shows 54.77 percent (18,806) of the county’s eligible population is fully vaccinated. Wagner said he does not think this includes children ages 5-11.

The health department will host two Moderna drive thru clinics at Rock City in Valmeyer on Friday, Dec. 2, and Friday, Dec. 9. The clinics run from 1-3 p.m. Those looking to get their second or “booster” dose must bring their vaccination card.

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