QUINCY — After a drop last month in the number of COVID infections leading to optimism throughout the area, Adams County case-counts have surged again.
On Feb. 24, there were 107 active cases, the last time active cases in Adams County reached triple digits. A month later, on March 21, there were only 9 active cases being tracked. Now, with the latest report coming in from the Health Department through Thursday, the county stands at 122 active cases.
“We’re not really seeing a jump in hospital admissions” related to COVID, Dr. Mary Frances Barthel said. Barthel is the chief quality and safety officer for Blessing Health System. “We are seeing younger patients being treated on an outpatient basis.”
Barthel said that, while there hasn’t been data pointing to a specific correlation, the cases being seen appear to indicate that vaccination programs are having the desired effect.
“Even the inpatient admissions we have appear to be younger patients, some even kids,” Barthel said. “That does seem to correspond with the vaccine efforts.”
The COVID-19 vaccinations were rolled out first to members of the community that were most vulnerable to severe cases, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Younger patients with less severe cases would follow the pattern as the less-vulnerable have only recently become eligible for vaccinations.
“Those being admitted now aren’t really any sicker than they were before,” Barthel said. “They run the range, and some are worse than others, but overall, the need for admissions seems to have stayed flat.
Illinois continues with Phase 4 of the reopening plan because of the recent surge. Metrics laid out to move to the so-called “Bridge Phase” or even Phase 5 which would essentially be back to a normal state include 70% of residents 65 and over having received at least one vaccination shot, and all residents 16 and over reaching 50% partially or fully vaccinated. Both of these goals have been reached, but the numbers for COVID-related hospitalizations have both jumped well beyond the state’s goals for further reopening.
According the Illinois Department of Public Health, daily admissions for patients should be no more than 150 patients per day, with overall inpatient totals staying below 750 patients. As of Friday, there hasn’t been a single day in April under the daily admissions target, and the overall hospitalization rate is nearly three times the metric goal.
Illinois reports more than 8.5 million vaccinations have been administered, and over 28% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated. Adams County stands at just under 35% fully vaccinated after nearly 43,000 shots have been given. The county continues to lead the state in the percentage of residents fully vaccinated.
Late Friday evening, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Illinois Department of Public Health announced they are approving the resumption of use of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccination.
Use of the vaccine had been paused following 15 cases of a rare but severe side effect that lead to blood clots. The fifteen cases emerged from roughly 7 million doses of the vaccine that had been administered. Providers across the state with doses of the J&J vaccine on hand will be allowed to use them again immediately.
The Adams County Health Department’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will be moving from the Oakley-Lindsay Center parking lot beginning on Tuesday. Testing will move to the Adams County Health Department’s own parking lot at 330 Vermont St. Hours for the site will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The final opportunity for a first-dose vaccination appointment will be April 24 at the mass vaccination site located at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. Registration can be found at adamscountytogether.com/vaccinate or by calling 217-600-4829. Beginning April 26, residents wishing to receive a vaccination may do so through the Adams County Health Department’s outreach events, by calling the Health Department at 217-222-8440 and scheduling a vaccine appointment, or by contacting their established medical office. Patients of Blessing may call 217-214-9626, while patients of Quincy Medical Group may call 217-222-6550 ext. 6802. SIU patients may call 217-224-9484 to schedule a vaccine appointment. Individuals seeking a second dose of vaccine after receiving their first dose out of the area may also contact the Adams County Health Department to make arrangements.
The Adams County Health Department continues to urge residents to use face coverings and maintain social distancing guidelines when in public spaces, and to stay home when sick. ACHD emphasized the importance of having as much of the population as possible to help decrease the spread of COVID.