MCPHD director on COVID-19 cases: ‘It’s growing like a weed’

MCPHD director on COVID-19 cases: ‘It’s growing like

• The graph shows the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported each day by the Illinois Department of Public Health. (Credit: Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois).

• The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Wednesday that 145 people in the state had died of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, the highest single-day death toll since the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in May, while overall hospital usage in the state reached its highest level.

• Those numbers were released one day after Illinois legislative leaders announced the cancellation of the fall veto session due to public health concerns amid the worsening pandemic. The session had been scheduled to begin Tuesday, Nov. 17.

• IDPH also reported 12,657 new cases of the disease had been confirmed since Tuesday out of 93,464 tests performed, for a single-day statewide positivity rate of 13.5 percent. The preliminary rolling seven-day average positivity rate stood at 12.5 percent.

By: JACKSON WILSON

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Kent Tarro of the Macoupin County Public Health Department had unfortunate news to share with the County board Tuesday evening at the Macoupin County Courthouse in Carlinville.

“We have a big mess here,” Tarro said as he addressed the board about the status of the coronavirus pandemic. “We are getting record numbers of people coming in to get screened and a lot of them already are possessing symptoms.”

Tarro said that the department was tracking an average rate of new positives within a range of 30-50 cases per day on multiple occassions over the past two weeks – a period in which the overall positivity rate in Illinois had risen from 10 to 11.4 percent.

Tarro provided a chart indicating that a vast majority of in-state cases were the most common in people attending restaurants, bars, schools and workplaces. All four of those catagories yielded a number of roughly 3,500-plus cases, with the 4,000-mark looming closely on the horizon. Hospitals, clinics, businesses and retails were in the lower 3,000s. Office settings, private homes, households and grocery stores were now above 1,000 cases as of Nov. 6.

More than 10,000 COVID-related deaths have been reported in Illinois over the past seven months, Tarro said. Macoupin County has now had 1,145 positive cases.

“It’s growing like a weed,” Tarro said of the coronavirus. “We need to do what we all can to reduce these numbers right now and prevent a hostile spread. This has gotten away from us, we are very concerned and we feel this  isn’t going to go away any time soon. Yes, there is good news going around with Pfizer and others looking to provide a vaccine, but I don’t expect that to get to Macoupin County until February or March of 2021.”

Tarro referenced a recent youth fatality that he saw in a St. Louis news report indicating that anyone and everyone was vulnerable when standing in the virus’s path.

“This was a 13-year-old boy that didn’t have any health issues whatsoever beforehand, and he died just two days after catching it,” said Tarro. “Are a lot of people behaving? Sure. But, there are still many others who still believe that COVID-19 is a hoax or not being honest about their health when attending birthday parties, bowling allies, weddings or whatever. That has put as in an extreme situation.”

At the end of October, Governor J.B. Pritzker recommended all restaurants and bars shifting back to carry-out and outdoor dining only as part of his COVID-19 resurgence mitigations. Many have obeyed the closing order while others have refused. Tarro said that the department will not be holding back in terms of enforcement for those keeping their doors open.

“If a cluster of cases is reported at a resturant or bar in Carlinville (for example), we will investigate that facility and shut it down until a deep cleaning is performed,” said Tarro. “If we have to pull a license, the liquor license would go too. We simply have to initiate and keep policies along these lines.”

Tarro told the board that he would like to schedule a follow-up meeting to further discuss this matter. The time and date has yet to be determined.

Unfinished and new business

The board reached an agreement with Ameren for the relocation of the natural gas main located on Brighton-Bunker Hill Road and approved a local agency appropriation resolution for the Sawyerville Hills Road bridge.

The board approved a contractor bill of $153,832 and an architect bill of $7,563 for the continued renovation of the courthouse dome.

Matters of recognition

Mark Dragovich led the board in recognizing and bidding farewell to departing members Francis Weiseman, Gary Rull, Shielda Lewis and Chi Pelo.

“Some of the years that these people have been with us have been very tough so we are very appreciative,” said Dragovich.

“I really enjoyed my time here,” said Weiseman, who had served on the board for the past 15 years. “This group of people had a lot to accomplish but they all worked together for the good of Macoupin County.”

Weiseman additionally praised county clerk Pete Duncan and Dragovich.

“I think you both have and are continuing to do an excellent job,” Weiseman said.

“I couldn’t of asked for a greater group of people to work with,” said Lewis. “Keep up the great work. I know you all will continue to do well going forward.”

“I think everyone did their part in keeping everything positive,” said Rull. “I would encourage you all to continue doing what is best for the board and not the party. It was my pleasure being able to serve here for the last four years.”

“I know I didn’t get much time with you guys but you made my time here enjoyable,” said Pelo. “I wish you all the best.”

Dragovich announced that Jen Watson was retiring from the state attorney’s office.

“I would like to congratulate her on her years of service with the county and thank her for all that she’s done,” said Dragovich.

Dragovich and Tarro thanked Duncan plus all of the judges and staff members for their cooperation during last week’s election.

“I don’t know of any problems or certain delays that happened, at least within this county, throughout the entire process,” said Dragovich. “Everyone was helpful and they did a great job in making everything operate smoothly.”

“I feel that everyone did their absolute best and did everything they could do in terms of keeping people as safe as possible,” said Tarro. “I applaud them for their efforts.”

Next meeting

The next County Board meeting will take place Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. Newly elected board members will begin serving when the board reconvenes.