New cases of COVID-19 have continued to increase dramatically in Morgan County since the beginning of the year, with more than 600 confirmed last week.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 688 new cases were confirmed in Morgan County from last Monday, January 8th to Friday, January 14th. Morgan County Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter says right now it seems everyone in the area either has someone in their household or knows someone personally who has COVID-19. Bainter says he thinks the latest positivity rate for Morgan County is actually a little misleading.
“It currently reads that we are hovering around 20%. I would personally say that the level is higher than that. Access to testing, individuals wanting to be tested, and just because callous to the process. I think we have a lot of individuals that while they are not severely ill, they just continue on with life, and you know that can be very dangerous for the individuals that are going to be severely ill.
We need to look at illness and make sure that if we are seeing those symptoms, even if we don’t test positive, it’s okay to stay home. You know if you’ve got symptoms, let’s exclude ourselves, let’s stay home and try to let those symptoms pass and protect our community.”
Bainter says even though Morgan County is now approximately 50% fully vaccinated, and symptoms are presenting much like a common cold, there is still a need to be careful for everyone in the community.
“That’s one thing that has kind of been a misconception with COVID. As we heard about the novel virus entering into the world two years ago, you know you have this mindset that it’s going to kill everyone, or everyone is going to be severely ill. That’s not the case. It is the rare person who has those severe symptoms, but it’s still common enough that we need to make this effort to try to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Currently, the Memorial Health website lists 18 people hospitalized at Jacksonville Memorial with approximately eight of those in the ICU. Last week Memorial Health asked the public to help manage the surge by knowing when to go to the ER and when to go to the doctor or urgent care in an effort to help a taxed emergency room.
Bainter is echoing that sentiment and says health care in the area has been overrun in recent weeks.
“Our healthcare system as a whole and Jacksonville Memorial is very strained right now. ICU availability, severe illness, we are seeing a lot of taxing on our healthcare system and that impacts all facets, not just COVID. Individuals who have heart attacks, strokes, any illness. And we don’t want to deter people from seeking healthcare, so if you’re sick go to the hospital. But getting vaccinated and preventing that severe illness from COVID is really important to protecting those other services.”
Symptoms are starting out very much like allergy symptoms with congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and/or itchy eyes with the possibility of becoming more severe as time goes on. He says recent statistics indicate that unvaccinated individuals are eight times more likely to be severely ill than those who are vaccinated.
Bainter is continuing to urge everyone to get vaccinated. You can find out more about COVID vaccinations by going to morganhd.com or calling 217-245-5111