New deaths, more than 300 active COVID cases in Monroe County

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After two weeks of rising deaths caused by the novel coronavirus, Monroe County stabilized in that regard over the last week. 

There were three more COVID-related deaths, which were recorded last Wednesday and this Sunday and Monday. The deceased in all three cases was a male in his 70s not associated with a long-term care facility.

The death toll for Monroe County is now at 58.

Monroe County’s COVID case count held relatively steady, as Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner reported 412 new cases since Dec. 15. 

There are 25 residents hospitalized with the virus among the 317 current active cases. The county has had 3,056 cases since the pandemic began. Monroe County reported 30 new cases Tuesday, 15 new cases Monday, nine new cases Sunday, 31 new cases Sautrday, 27 new cases Friday, 50 new cases Thursday following 27 new cases Wednesday.

Oak Hill Senior Living & Rehabilitation Administrator Brian Koontz said during last Monday’s county board meeting that some of those new cases are from his facility. Last week’s testing identified one resident and three staff as positive, per Koontz.  

Koontz also reported the Illinois Department of Public Health has directed Oak Hill to increase COVID testing frequency due to area positivity percentages.

With two major holidays in the next 10 days, Wagner said he is not expecting a spike in cases – though he expects to see a similar change as this area did after Thanksgiving. 

“I think we’re going to see a little bit of a change, but I wouldn’t call it a spike. We might see a slight increase,” he said. “I think we’ll see the same thing I watched the numbers after Thanksgiving do: it kind of transitioned to a little bit older population coming up positive.”

Deaths and hospitalizations jumped after the November holiday after more senior citizens got sick, though that is not conclusively attributable to Thanksgiving. 

Wagner advised taking precautions at holiday gatherings to decrease the chance of more people in the older population contracting COVID-19.

“Be aware of what your family’s behavior is,” he suggested. “If you have a niece or nephew who frequents parties with friends and everything else, don’t bring him or her over and put him in the same room with grandpa. You can still get together, but be smart about it.”

While the pandemic is still at much higher levels here than it was for much of the year, Wagner said the flu season has been “light so far.” 

“Flu’s actually down right now, and a lot of that has to do with it being a respiratory disease. A lot of people are wearing masks, washing their hands more often and staying out of group settings,” Wagner explained, adding he does not suggest that it becomes a regular practice after the pandemic is over. 

There will be free mobile COVID testing outside of the Monroe County Annex, 901 Illinois Avenue in Waterloo, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 30.

The COVID vaccine arrived in Monroe County on Wednesday, with 100 doses administered to medical personnel who have contact with patients. Read more by clicking here.

Overall, the Waterloo zip code has had 1,552 cases (15,451 tests performed), the Columbia zip code has had 1,199 cases (7,197 tests) and the Valmeyer zip code has had 120 cases (630 tests), according to the IDPH.

The IDPH on Dec. 25 listed Monroe County, along with all but eight counties in the state, as being at the warning level for COVID-19. For the week of Dec. 13, Monroe County had 737 cases per 100,000 residents (the goal is less than 50), a test positivity rate of 14.3 percent (the goal is less than or equal to 8 percent), performed 1,727 tests (the goal is to do enough to meet the positivity rate) and 19 percent of ICU beds available (the goal is at least 20 percent).

In St. Clair County, there have been 20,449 total positive tests and 323 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 204,387 tests have been performed there.

Randolph County has had 3,245 confirmed cases, 224 of which are active. Forty-six people have died from the virus in that county.

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 12.1 percent on Dec. 26. The region has 17 percent of its medical or surgical beds available and 25 percent of its ICU beds.

Illinois overall is up to 948,006 cases of coronavirus and 16,179 deaths.

There are 4,313 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, including 904 people in ICU beds and 506 on ventilators.

Missouri has recorded 386,095 confirmed cases and 5,433 deaths. That includes 59,430 cases in St. Louis County and 15,625 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Nationally, more than 19.4 million people have contracted the virus, while at least 336,443 people have died.

Worldwide, there are over 81.6 million cases of coronavirus and over 1.7 million COVID-19-related deaths.

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