The head of the Morgan County Health Department says Morgan County is in the middle of a strong surge of new cases of COVID-19 but is it Omicron?
Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter says although there has not been an officially documented case here in Morgan County, the Omicron variant is already here.
“We haven’t confirmed any cases but it’s safe to assume that part of the surge we are seeing would be related to the Omicron variant. With cases being confirmed in Sangamon County, I would just say it’s a lack of surveillance, a lack of tests being analyzed at this time. But I would say it’s very safe to assume that it’s here.”
Bainter says Morgan along with all of Region 3 and beyond is seeing a surge of new cases and a significant strain on hospitals and the health care system overall.
On Thursday the Illinois Department of Public Health announced more than 128,000 new cases of COVID were confirmed over the past week. As of Wednesday night, just under 5,700 Illinoisans are hospitalized, with 1,010 in the ICU and 565 on ventilators.
Bainter says he is hopeful that we will soon be on the downhill side of the latest surge, however, he and his staff are preparing for case counts to continue to rise.
“I kinda hope we are about to hit that peak and get ready to see it decline again as we have seen in the past. But right now we are definitely at an increased risk. I think probably two to three weeks into January, after the Christmas holiday and the New Year’s holiday, we should definitely see that number peak and start to drop back off again as we saw last year. So we just need to hold things together for the next few weeks and hopefully we can ride this wave.”
Bainter says vaccination and testing continue at the Morgan County Health Department and he continues to urge the public to get vaccinated and the booster.
“Getting vaccinated is the answer. My family, my children are vaccinated this time and it made it a little more enjoyable for the holidays this year. It also does impact how we contact trace, and those quarantine and isolation efforts. And it is still proven to be highly effective at preventing severe illness.
That’s not to say that you can’t still contract the virus, but it’s keeping people out of the hospitals. Those numbers, those increases that we are seeing in the hospital, they are numbers that are related to individuals that are not vaccinated, and we see a significant amount of the severe illness in the individuals that haven’t been vaccinated.”
COVID-19 vaccinations are still being distributed by the Morgan County Health Department five days a week. Bainter says they are averaging 40 to 50 doses administered daily at the Health Department, and testing is still being held at the Jacksonville Memorial Hospital Drive Through facility on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 pm.
There is no testing today however due to accessibility to the lab head of the New Year’s holiday.
To find out more information about testing or vaccinations in Morgan County, contact the health department at 217-245-5111, or online at morganhd.com.