COVID surge in county

Another death reported, 2 schools close.

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 1/18/22

Some COVID-19 pandemic deniers may still exist, but the reality is all too apparent to local health care providers.

Horizon Health announced Thursday, Jan. 13, it was taking new measures and …

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COVID surge in county

Another death reported, 2 schools close.

Posted

Some COVID-19 pandemic deniers may still exist, but the reality is all too apparent to local health care providers.

Horizon Health announced Thursday, Jan. 13, it was taking new measures and restricting visitor access because of the continuing surge in Edgar County.

The news release said Wednesday, Jan. 12, set a new record for Horizon Health with more than 100 positive COVID-19 tests in a single day.

During the first 10 days of January, Horizon Health processed 350 positive COVID tests — a number equal to the entire month of November.

Here are the changes imposed by Horizon Health:

 In general, patients should come alone.

 Exceptions include end-of-life visits and support persons who are essential to patient care, such as guardians of minors, caretakers of those with physical or cognitive impairments, etc.

 People may be asked to wait in their vehicle depending on appointment type, capacity of waiting area and space for social distancing,

 If you have questions about a certain department/ situation, please contact that team before arrival.

 Only essential business contacts related to direct patient care are permitted.

 The cafeteria is closed for dine-in. Carry-out only.

 The gift shop is closed until further notice.

 Masking remains a requirement for everyone entering a Horizon Health facility.

 Everyone entering any Horizon Health facility must self-screen. Those experiencing any symptom of COVID should not enter, unless they are a patient needing to see a medical provider. 

Adam Webb, head of the Horizon Health ambulance service, briefed Edgar County Board members about conditions during the Monday, Jan. 10, study session.

Webb said during November the ambulance service did 88 home wellness checks of patients. There were 167 such visits during December.

“Those numbers are just blowing up,” said Webb.

During the week of Jan. 2 to Jan. 7 eight patients were flown by helicopter from Paris Community Hospital to other facilities. Webb said some flights were for coronary issues, but others were for COVID patients experiencing respiratory distress.

The flight evacuations, he said, were necessary because all area hospitals are so full the only available space may be four hours, or more, away. Webb explained an ambulance cannot carry enough oxygen to meet the needs of a COVID patient during a four-hour transport. The helicopter reduces the time needed to get the patient to another facility.

Schools are also bearing the brunt of new cases. Both Shiloh and Chrisman school districts were forced to close Tuesday, Jan. 11, when the student, faculty and staff absences were so great it was not possible to remain in session. Both districts plan to resume in-person learning Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Chrisman principal Cole Huber discussed what happened during the school board meeting Thursday, Jan. 13.

He said normally the junior high/high school gets about one case a day but on Monday and Tuesday there were 12 new cases in a 24-hour period.

“All I did Monday was contact trace,” said Huber.

The decision to close and use remote learning came when three additional teachers tested positive.

“We literally had no more bodies,” Huber said.

The last time the Edgar County Public Health Department website updated was Tuesday, Jan. 11. While those numbers are now dated, the change included another death bringing the total to 108 dead in Edgar County from COVID-19.

Between Jan. 6 and Jan. 11, the ECPHD website posted 168 new positive cases.

One small glimmer of positive news was found. The county finally has more than 42% of residents vaccinated. This is not a magic number denoting any great success, but it has taken weeks to move from the 41% to the 42% level.

Free vaccination, and boosters, remain available through the health department’s vaccination clinics.

Visit ecphd.org for information about clinic dates and to make an appointment. Those without a computer may call 217-294-2838 or 217-294-2728 for assistance.