Monroe County coronavirus cases rise to 47 after nursing home outbreak; now 5 deaths

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Pictured is Garden Place Senior Living at 480 DD Road in Columbia. 

A coronavirus outbreak at a senior living facility in Columbia has led to a steady rise in cases and four more deaths for Monroe County this week.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner announced on Tuesday that two more individuals have died form complications associated with the virus. Both of these people were associated with the outbreak at Garden Place Senior Living at 480 DD Road in Columbia.

On Monday, Wagner announced the first two deaths associated with that outbreak. One of the four deaths at the facility is not confirmed to be COVID-19 related, Wagner said, but is presumed to be.

Of the three confirmed COVID-19 deaths at the facility, the people who died were a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 80s and a man in his 80s.

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

“We are continuing to follow all the guidelines and recommendations provided by Monroe County Health Department and other local, state and federal health authorities,” Fahoum added. 

Last Tuesday, Wagner announced the first local resident who died from COVID-19, a man in his 80s with an underlying health condition who died Monday.

He was one of the previously reported positive cases of the coronavirus. 

Monroe County has 47 confirmed cases of the virus as of Monday. A total of 17 residents and eight employees of Garden Place Senior Living have tested positive for the virus. Three of those employees reside in another county and are not included in Monroe County’s overall case count, Wagner said.

Seven residents are hospitalized with the virus, according to Wagner.

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

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are 21 reported cases in the Waterloo zip code (62298) and 24 in the Columbia zip code (62236). Zip codes are only announced by the IDPH once there are greater than five positive cases in that zip code.

“We have a lot of outstanding tests right now because we’re testing a lot of people,” Wagner added.

Wagner said his department is tracking 100 or more residents who have been in contact with known local cases. They are all in quarantine.

So far, four individuals have recovered from the virus in Monroe County, according to Wagner. He said two Monroe County residents remain hospitalized with issues related to COVID-19. 

During Monday’s Columbia City Council meeting, Columbia EMS Chief Kim Lamprecht confirmed a positive coronavirus case at the Garden Place senior living facility. Lamprecht said tests are pending on others at that facility and all residents have been subject to “isolation and quarantine requirements” for their safety. 

Amira Fahoum, a spokesperson for Compass Senior Living – the parent company of Garden Place – confirmed positive cases at the Columbia facility on Tuesday.

“We have reached out to state and local health authorities and are following appropriate guidance from the federal, state and local level,” Fahoum said. “Currently, we are working with Monroe County and the Illinois health authority in our response and measures being taken at this time include additional precautionary testing of residents and employees.”

Fahoum said Monday that four Garden Place residents and three employees are still awaiting testing availability.

Another senior care facility, Integrity Healthcare of Columbia, said it is taking appropriate precautions following a recent coronavirus-related false alarm. 

“Our concern about the coronavirus has greatly increased our preventative measures,” Integrity Vice President of Business Development Kenya O’Neal said. “All nursing homes must be prepared for a possible outbreak or quarantine, so we’re actively planning for those scenarios. Integrity of Columbia has not had an active COVID 19 case with residents or employees.” 

The parent of an inmate at the Monroe County Jail called the Republic-Times this week to express concern that an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19. Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing and Wagner both declined to confirm or deny that report.

Pictured, the Valmeyer School District recently put up
a sign to remind students how much it cares for them
while schools are closed during Illinois’ stay at home order. 

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

To the north, St. Clair County has 201 confirmed cases, including 11 coronavirus-related deaths. The latest death was a female in her 80s with underlying health conditions. The previous death was a man in his 70s with underlying health conditions. The death of a woman in her 90s with an underlying health condition was announced Saturday.

The seventh and eighth deaths were reported Thursday. Those individuals who died were a male in his 50s with unknown medical conditions and a male in his 90s with underlying medical conditions. The fifth and sixth deaths were reported Wednesday. The people who died were males, one in his 50s and one in his 70s, who had underlying health conditions.

The fourth death was reported Monday and was a woman in her 70s with an underlying health issue. The third death, a man in his 70s, also had underlying health conditions. The earlier deceased in St. Clair County were women in their 80s and 30s with underlying health issues. 

The St. Clair County coronavirus cases are in the zip codes covering Belleville, Swansea, Fairview Heights, O’Fallon, Shiloh, Cahokia, Centreville and Sauget.

To the south, Randolph County now has 44 confirmed cases, with affected residents in the Red Bud, Prairie du Rocher, Steeleville, Sparta and Chester zip codes. There are 29 cases in Randolph County that have fully recovered and can resume normal activity. 

Randolph County Health Department Administrator Angela Oathout told the North County News that some of the people who have the virus attended a public group gathering. 

That event took place prior to the stay at home order but during the time when the state urged people to avoid gatherings. 

“Our residents who have  made sacrifices, who have done everything that we have asked, will now make additional sacrifices for those who have continued to behave recklessly,” Oathout said. 

Statewide, there are 23,247 cases of coronavirus and 868 deaths, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state reported 1,222 new cases and 74 more deaths Tuesday. The IDPH reported 1,173 new cases and 74 new deaths Monday. The state reported 1,672 new cases on Sunday, the largest single-day increase yet, and 43 more deaths.An additional 1,292 cases and 81 were reported Saturday. There were 1,465 new cases and 68 more deaths reported Friday. There were 1,344 new cases reported Thursday and 66 deaths. There were 1,529 cases reported Wednesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday, one month since he issued a state of emergency, it is “unlikely” his stay-at-home order can be lifted safely before April 30 and organizers of large summer events “need to think seriously” about canceling them.

“From my perspective today, I do not see how we’re going to have large gatherings of people again until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away,” Pritzker said. “I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere, and I think that’s hard for everybody to hear, but it’s just a fact.”

Across the river in Missouri, which is also in a shelter in place order that began Monday, there were 4,686 confirmed cases and 133 deaths as of Monday.

That includes 1,851 cases in St. Louis County and 695 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday ordered all classrooms in Missouri to remain closed through the end of the school year.

Nationally, over 597,834 people had contracted the virus as of Monday afternoon, while 25,191 people have died from it. 

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

The pandemic has now spread to at least 177 countries, with over 1.9 million cases and at least 124,190 deaths worldwide. 

As the world continues to fight the virus, Wagner urged anyone who has N95 masks and other personal protective equipment they are willing to donate to bring them to the Monroe County Health Department, as emergency responders and senior living communities are reporting a shortage.

To contact the health department, call 618-939-3871.

N95 masks cover the nose and mouth and help protect the wearer from breathing in hazardous substances. PPE includes items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.

The Monroe County Association for Home and Community Education members have made 160 masks. Some are going to local nursing homes, while several HCE members have people working in the health field and have donated there.

Healthy individuals can also help by donating blood, as there is a severe shortage due to blood drive cancellations in response to the pandemic.

To schedule an appointment to safely give blood through the American Red Cross, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. 

Anyone can help by following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is recommending everyone wear a cloth face covering when in public to help slow the spread of the virus.

That is especially important in areas of significant community transmission.

A cloth face covering is not like the N95 respirators or surgical masks.

For more on the guidelines, including ways to make masks at home, click here.

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