Modified stay at home order extended; Oak Hill has first case and Garden Place reports more deaths

On the heels of Gov. JB Pritzker’s announcement that he will extend a modified version of Illinois’ stay at home order into late May, a senior living community in Waterloo reported that a staff member has tested positive for the virus and a Columbia senior care facility saw two more deaths.

The changes in Pritzker’s new order include that all those ages 2 or older wear a mask or face covering when in an indoor public place and unable to maintain a distance of six feet from others. Essential businesses and manufacturers will also be required to supply face coverings for employees who cannot remain six feet apart and take other precautions like staggering shifts or limiting the number of people in a building.

Additionally, greenhouses, garden centers, nurseries and animal grooming services will be allowed to reopen as essential businesses and non-essential retail stores will be able to reopen to fulfill phone and online orders for pick-up and delivery. Surgi-centers and hospitals will also be allowed to perform certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions.

As for outdoor recreation, fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted and golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and when ensuring that social distancing is followed. State parks will have a phased reopening.

This modified stay at home order goes into effect May 1.

In conjunction with Thursday’s announcement, Pritzker released modeling created by top academic institutions and researchers in Illinois that predicts the course of coronavirus in the state over the coming months. On the current trajectory, Illinois is projected to see a peak or plateau of deaths per day between late April and early May.

Pritzker said if the stay at home order were lifted this week, the model anticipates a second wave of the outbreak in Illinois starting in May – which would claim tens of thousands of lives and greatly exceed the state’s hospital capacity. The modeling also projected the death toll in Illinois would have been at least 10-20 times higher if Pritzker had never issued a stay at home order.

“Make no mistake, Illinois has saved lives. By staying home and social distancing, we have kept our infection and death rates for the months of March and April thousands below the rates projected had we not implemented these mitigation strategies,” Pritzker said. “I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working — and we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job.”

This is a graphic provided by the governor’s office projecting a “second wave” of COVID-19 if the current stay at home order is lifted.

Pritzker announced last week that in-person schooling would be canceled for the rest of the academic year. For reactions from local school officials on the decision, click here. The IHSA announced Tuesday that the spring sports season has been cancelled with the door cracked ever-so-slightly for some semblance of competition this summer if things change. Read more on that decision by clicking here.

Also at the local level, Oak Hill Senior Living and Rehabilitation Center in Waterloo reported its first case of the virus.

According to information posted April 23 on its website, a member of that facility’s housekeeping staff tested positive for the virus. Oak Hill said it is following all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments.

“The staff member who tested positive wore a mask at all times when in resident care areas and followed our recommended infection control practices,” Oak Hill Administrator Kim Keckritz said. “She will not be allowed to return to work for at least 14 days.”

Keckritz added the facility is working with the Monroe County Health Department to monitor and identify anyone who may have symptoms of COVID-19 or recently interacted with this staff member.

“We along with the IDPH are now working with Oak Hill to ensure the safety of the residents and employees at Oak Hill,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said.

Since that confirmed case, several staff have been tested, with all tests so far coming back negative. Some tests are still pending. One resident has been tested for the coronavirus, and that test also came back negative, according to Keckritz.

Overall, the number of coronavirus cases in Monroe County stands at 68 as of Tuesday, including 10 deaths.

It appears, however, that the spread of the virus has slowed slightly since an outbreak at Garden Place Senior Living at 480 DD Road in Columbia led to a sharp rise in cases and deaths.

“Countywide, we’re not doing too bad,” Wagner said at Monday’s meeting of the Monroe County Board. “We’re able to track most of our people back to where they got it.”

Monroe County saw its number of cases go from 18 to 47 in the previous two weeks, while its deaths went from one to five.

Of the current case total, 27 of those people are associated with Garden Place. Twenty-three residents and four employees of that facility who live in the county have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Nine of the county’s deaths come from that facility, according to Wagner. The most recent one was announced Saturday. Other deaths were announced April 13, 14, 18, 21 and 24.

There have actually been 10 residents of Garden Place who have succumbed to COVID-19, but one of those is not included in Monroe County’s total.

“I am aware of one other confirmed death from Garden Place but they do not show up in Monroe County’s totals because they went from Garden Place to a hospital and then from the hospital to a long-term care facility in another county,” Wagner explained. “They then passed away at that long-term care facility and are counted in that county’s total.”

A Garden Place spokesperson expressed condolences to all those affected by the outbreak.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the families of these residents,” said Amira Fahoum, education and programs leader at Garden Place’s parent company, Compass Senior Living. “We consider each resident a part of our own families.”

One new case, a health care worker who lives in the community, was reported Tuesday. No new cases were reported Sunday. Two new cases, both among the general public, were reported Saturday. Two new cases, one at Garden place and one from the public, were reported Friday. Two new cases from the general public were reported both Thursday and Wednesday. Two new cases, one at Garden Place and one from the general public, were reported Tuesday. No new cases were reported Monday.

Eight individuals from Garden Place are hospitalized with the virus, according to Wagner, while three other people are also in the hospital.

Twenty people have recovered from the virus and were released from quarantine in Monroe County.

“The way things are going, I wouldn’t say we have community spread or anything like that,” Wagner told the commissioners Monday. “Obviously, you always worry about the asymptomatic people getting into large groups and things like that.”

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are 32 confirmed cases of the virus in the Columbia zip code (83 tests performed), 29 in the Waterloo zip code (85 tests performed) and six in the Valmeyer zip code (10 tests performed). 

The age range for Monroe County residents who have had the virus are from teenager to their 90s, Wagner said. 

As in Monroe County, the coronavirus continues to rise throughout the region, state, nation and world. 

St. Clair County has 424 confirmed cases, including 27 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 1,898 people have been tested in that county.

Randolph County now has 137 confirmed cases, 86 of which are active. There are 51 people in Randolph County who have fully recovered from the virus and can resume normal activity while five are hospitalized.

The reported cases fall in the Chester, Prairie du Rocher, Evansville, Red Bud, Sparta, Percy, Steeleville and Walsh zip codes.

Last week, the Randolph County Health Department reported its first COVID-19 death. The deceased was identified as Don Welge, president and CEO of food product manufacturer Gilster-Mary Lee headquartered in Chester.

The overall case number in southwestern Illinois is more than 960, including at least 50 deaths.

Statewide, there are 48,102 cases of coronavirus and 2,125 deaths, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The IDPH reported 2,219 new cases and 144 new deaths on Tuesday. There were1,980 new cases and 50 new deaths on Monday. There were 2,126 new cases and 59 deaths on Sunday. There were 2,119 new cases and 80 deaths on Saturday. There were 2,724 new cases, the highest rise in confirmed cases in one day, and 108 new deaths on Firday. There were 1,826 new cases and 123 additional deaths on Thursday. There were 2,049 new cases and 97 more deaths on Wednesday.

Over 16,000 Illinois residents were tested for the virus on Saturday, while that number was at almost 12,000 Friday. Over 13,000 were tested on Sunday.

As state totals rise, downstate leaders are growing more critical of Pritzker’s handling of the situation, arguing a regional approach would be better given the majority of cases have been in the Chicago area.

“Gov. Pritzker rationalized extending his shut-down order for another 38 days based on a false choice between the status-quo and a dangerous, complete, immediate reopening of our state that is advocated by no one,” state Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) said. “I and many other legislators would have preferred that the Governor recognize the regional differences that exist in our state, empower local officials to determine safe practices and procedures for their own areas and provide a pathway back to normalcy. The people of Illinois have a capacity for sacrifice that is deep, but not unlimited.  They deserve more than the continued one-size-fits-all approach.”

Wagner agreed with Schimpf, pointing out that, as of Thursday, 33,854 of the people with COVID-19 in the state live in Chicago, Cook, Will, Kankakee, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties, which are all near Chicago. That means the other 3,080 individuals with the virus are spread throughout the rest of the sate.

“Another way to look at it is Illinois is approximately 57,915 square miles and over 91 percent of the positive cases are ‘quarantined’ in a 6,004 mile radius,” Wagner argued. “But the other 51,911 square miles of Illinois have only 9 percent.  Does a one size fits all response make sense?”

In Missouri, there were 7,171 confirmed cases and 288 deaths as of Tuesday. 

That includes 2,897 cases in St. Louis County and 1,027 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson recently ordered all classrooms in the state to remain closed through the end of the school year to slow the virus’ spread. 

Nationally, over 977,256 people had contracted the virus as of Tuesday afternoon, while 50,134 people have died from it. 

The United States leads the world in reported coronavirus cases and COVID-19 related deaths.

The pandemic has now spread to at least 177 countries, with over 2.9 million cases and at least 202,953 deaths worldwide.

The World Health Organization on Saturday warned that “there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”

Red Bud Regional Hospital urges residents potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19 or experiencing fever over 100.4 degrees, a sore throat, new or worsening cough, or shortness of breath, to take these steps:

  • Isolate yourself as much as possible.
  • Document when the symptoms began and who you encountered after that time.
  • If experiencing mild symptoms, stay at home and contact your doctor’s office. They can provide additional guidance and screening to determine if you require testing.
  • Call the Red Bud Regional Hospital COVID-19 Call Line at 618-282-5165 between 8 a.m to 8 p.m. to be screened by phone.
  • If experiencing severe symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, you should seek emergency care.

Red Bud Regional Hospital has a drive-thru collection process for patients who have an order for COVID-19 testing and have been instructed to receive testing in this manner.

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