The Coles County Health Department has announced the COVID-19 death toll has reached 103 people and the county has seen a 1111.11% increase in cases from June to August.
The most impacted age range is people ages 11-29, who saw a 1625 percent increase. They are followed by people 70 or older and children ages 0-10.
The new cases bring Coles County up to 6,523 cases total since the start of the pandemic; nearly 8 percent of the Coles County population.
Eastern epidemiologist Sheila Simons says she is concerned about the low vaccine rates being seen in the county and at Eastern.
“I am very concerned with the low turnout for vaccines. At the past Moderna Clinic, there were 19 vaccines given on the 19th, and 13 given on the 20th. The county is around 35%,” Simons said. “If we do not reach 70%, isolations, and quarantines will continue.”
Currently Eastern vaccine rates are as follows:
-67.5% of employees are fully vaccinated
-0.8% of employees are partially vaccinated
-46.9% of students enrolled in on-campus courses & programs are fully vaccinated
-3.1% of students enrolled in on-campus courses & programs are partially vaccinated
With the Delta variant making its way throughout the country, Simons said cases are bound to increase and be more difficult for those infected with the virus.
“New cases of the coronavirus continue to surge across the U.S., driven by the fast-spreading and highly contagious Delta variant that now makes up the majority of COVID infections in the country,” Simons said. “The Delta variant has been confirmed to be in Coles County and what I am consistently seeing is individuals that are much sicker.”
Hospitals around the country are suffering due to a lack of rooms, and Coles County is not exempt from that issue.
Simons says it is essential to keep in mind the strain on resources hospitals face as local cases surge.
“Sarah Bush Lincoln is well equipped to handle COVID cases, the issue is when COVID cases surge in number and we lose ICU beds for other patients. I think what people forget is that SBL is a functioning hospital. They serve COVID patients, but they also have surgeries, emergencies, rehabs etc.,” Simons said. “But it also puts an immense strain on employees. The compassion fatigue is real. And we are all very tired (at every level).”
Moving forward Simons said people do not need to start new habits to keep themselves safe, but rather remain dedicated to the recommendations that have been previously given.
“Nothing has changed. It’s the same virus, different variants,” Simons said. “We should all still be masking (I do in stores), gathering outside only, social distance, good hand hygiene.”
That extends to vaccinated individuals as well.
“Vaccination is a shield. It’s not fool proof,” Simons said. “You still need to remain vigilant.”
Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]