Board of Public Health gets pandemic update from administrator

Board of Public Health gets pandemic update from

Posted Nov. 21 at 11:20 a.m.

By: JACKSON WILSON

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Macoupin County Public Health Department administrator Kent Tarro provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic at a Board of Public Health meeting Nov. 18.

“I don’t think it is a secret anymore in that this whole issue has gotten away from us,” said Tarro. “We are now up to 19 county deaths with many of those happening recently.”

The total number of positive Macoupin County cases was 1,145 when Tarro addressed the Macoupin County board at the courthouse Nov. 10. As of Monday, the total had risen to 1,659.

“My staff has heard a number of times from relatives, family members, etc., that have said that they wish that they hadn’t been so stupid because a loved one of theirs died as a result of them ignoring all efforts to prevent the virus,” said Tarro.

Illinois currently has had 10,875 COVID-related deaths, according to a report read by Tarro Monday evening.

“We understand that everyone is trying their best to survive, even the business owners that feel like they aren’t going to make it,” said Derrek Tiburzi. “However, we are dealing with a pandemic that consists of cases – many that are soaring out of control. We are dealing with a health department staff that has worked on this since February and its members are getting worn down. Then, at the same time, we’re trying to plan a mass vaccination. At this point, we’re grabbing for straws and asking for any additional help we can get.”

“Another issue that is starting to make me nervous is the amount of hospital beds that are being used,” said Tarro. “We’re really starting to ramp up the deaths which is always going to happen when you have more hospitalizations and people on ventilators.”

An outbreak had been reported at the Sunrise long-term care facility in Virden and two hospitalized patients had to be transferred to Urbana due to beds not being available in the local area.

“This seems to be a recurring theme now,” said Peggy Garrison. “We recently had an employee whose family member was taken to Carlinville (Area) Hospital by ambulance, transferred to Barnes-Jewish in St. Louis and they couldn’t find an intensive care bed in St. Louis, Alton, Maryville or Springfield. So, they are going to Urbana as well.”

Tarro said that nobody was safe from the virus and had to take it seriously. He re-referenced the news of a 13-year old boy from the St. Louis area that lost his life after a two-day battle despite not having any previous health issues.

“I can’t believe in the fact that everyone has to go sometime when I see an individual that young and healthy go after just two days,” said Tarro. “I also do not believe that this is a natural selection thing or anything else that I’ve been hearing from different people in the community.”

In terms of getting patients access to vaccinations, Tarro predicted that the county would be able to do so come February or March of 2021.

“Forty million doses could be produced by December and 50 million by January,” said Tarro. “If we get the vaccinations here by February or March, the priority will most likely be healthcare personnel and first responders first, high-risk patients second and anyone aged 65 or older third. We aren’t 100 percent certain on that at this point but that’s what we are hoping to have happen.”

Tarro mentioned that there has yet to be a vaccine for anyone 18 years or younger.

“Pfizer has just recruited 12 18-year-olds for a study,” said Tarro. “The plan is to conduct trials on five of those individuals but they aren’t at that point yet.”

Tarro said that safety mitigations would still have to be practiced, even after vaccinations.

“There have been instances of people getting this virus twice,” said Tarro. “We obviously don’t know exactly how fully robust it can be but based on what we have seen so far, it is apparantly very robust. We need to what we can to get a handle on this situation so it doesn’t go south on everyone. I want us to be able to say that we proactively did what we could do.”

“This whole county has had adversity to deal with at some point,” said Tiburzi. “For a county and people of such to be divided over a virus seems very odd because we’ve always been a series of communities that have come together well in times like this.”

In addition, the Board unanimously agreed to propose a few county food sanitation program ordinance revisions.

COVID-19 had been on a record resurgence throughout the state of Illinois, with restaurants and bars being the biggest potential exposure spots for positive cases. As of Monday, the numbers were either at or nearing the 4,000 mark in both categories.

“We’re recommending these modifications in a way that will help us try and get ahead of this,” said MCPHD environmental health inspector Derrek Tiburzi.

The ordinance changes will need to be presented to the Macoupin County Board for official approval.

Next meeting

The Macoupin County Board of Public Health will meet Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. in the MCPHD building on North Broad Street in Carlinville.