Morgan County Health officials have already seen cases of COVID transmission linked to Thanksgiving gatherings, as area hospitals are straining to manage bed space.
Morgan County Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter says it has not taken long for contact tracers to see community spread of the virus in large holiday gatherings.
“Already this week, we have had reports of positives and as we would contact trace those individuals, it didn’t take long and we had our first instances of a family gathering of twenty to twenty five people. One individual wasn’t feeling real well that day and it wasn’t long before the entire family was on quarantine. We are keeping an eye on them to see if anyone else develops symptoms or we get them tested and see what the impact is going to be on our community.”
According to the Memorial Health System COVID Dashboard, as of 12:01 pm Thursday, the health system has seen a 20% positivity rate over the last seven days system wide, while Passavant Area Hospital continues to see the number of in-bed patients due to COVID hovering around 50%.
Bainter says it doesn’t take long to cause stress to the services Passavant has to offer. He says rising cases in neighboring counties add strain to the health services here in Morgan County.
“Our healthcare system branches into Springfield and the surrounding area. Our local Passavant Area Hospital serves a large geographical area including Greene, Scott, Pike, Cass and even farther into Schuyler County, so they do branch out and service a large area. That just reinforces the importance of making sure we don’t overwhelm that system because they provide that critical care to so many individuals.”
Bainter commends the Passavant Hospital staff and says they are doing a great job working to keep enough staff available for all shifts while a good majority of their time is spent dealing with COVID.
Bainter says contrary to the belief of some, masks do work to help stop the spread, and those who don’t believe they do need to listen to the health experts.
“I think the people you hear saying the masks don’t work aren’t experts. Let’s face it, I don’t take my car to a plumber to get advice on how to fix my car. You know if we are talking about mask usage, if you look at the experts, look at the CDC, look at the WHO, and here locally IDPH, it does make an impact.
So while it might be an inconvenience, individuals can convince themselves that it doesn’t work- science says otherwise. It’s really not that big of a deal. We as adults just seem to make it a bigger deal than it seems to be. If you’re going into someplace in public and going to be around others, put your mask on. Anything we can do to help right now to protect our healthcare system, our elderly, those that are more susceptible to this then, that’s an effort we can make to help protect someone.
You know this past week we saw double-digit fatalities, and you know I had personal experience with some of those individuals that passed away. I saw them mowing their yard two months ago and they seemed extremely healthy and pretty happy. I sure would’ve liked to have seen them mow their yard next summer.”
Bainter says worst case scenario, if someone were at a large gathering while becoming symptomatic or in their contagious period, the health department will usually see that transmission between four and seven days after, and someone who is a close contact of the person, that incubation period can take up to 14 days.
He says if you know or suspect you have been exposed to COVID, the health department recommends not testing until the fifth day after the exposure, to help ensure accurate test results.
The Morgan County Health Department is continuing no cost drive through testing at the COVID Contact Tracing Center located on West College Avenue on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9am to 1pm. Enter the testing site from Morgan Street behind the Dunlap building.