METNWS-07-22-21 COVID – Back in Orange_PHOTO

With Massac County placed at the “orange warning level” and positive cases rising region-wide, Southern Seven Health Department began providing daily COVID updates this week.

With warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk, Massac County is once again orange. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the decision on Friday, July 16.

“Massac County has an amount of New Cases Per 100,000 and Test Positivity percentage metrics that are causing the elevated risk level,” said Nathan Ryder, Southern Seven Health Department’s contact tracing outreach coordinator. “Residents are asked to remain vigilant to slow spread of the virus.”

Over a seven-day period, Massac County had 85 potential new cases, based on 12 positive cases, per 100,000 reported. The test positivity percentage for the county was 10.4% out of 106 tests.

“While numbers are lower than what we were seeing at the height of the pandemic, the fact that we’re seeing this rapid increase in new COVID-19 cases across the Southern Seven region is a troubling sign, especially with the large amount of people who have chosen to not get vaccinated,” Ryder said. “Massac County isn’t alone in the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases. We’ve been seeing these new positive cases growing for the past three weeks.”

And because of that rise, Southern Seven resumed its daily COVID reports on Monday.

The department’s last weekly report was for July 10-16. Posted Friday, July 16, it reported that Massac County had nine newly confirmed cases — one teenager; one in their 30s; three in their 40s; one in their 50s; and three in their 70s. During the same time period, Southern Seven reported 66 newly confirmed cases in its region of Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties.

The first of the daily reports covered the weekend of July 17-19. Posted Monday, July 19, it reported that Massac County had two newly confirmed cases — one each in their 60s and 70s. During the same time period, Southern Seven reported 40 newly confirmed cases in its region.

Tuesday’s report had zero confirmed new cases for Massac County, but 21 for the region. As of Tuesday, 7,937 Massac Countians have received the vaccine since it became available in December. Of those, 3,885, or 27.59%, have been fully vaccinated.

“Southern Seven has been urging southern Illinoisans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, especially with the rapid spread of the delta variant impacting neighboring states,” Ryder said. “Our region needs to do more to get their COVID-19 vaccines. It’s the surest way we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our economy open. People can also continue following the COVID-19 mitigation procedures we’re all familiar with to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 — wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and keep your distance especially in crowded situations.”

The state moved into Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois COVID-19 mitigation plan last month, allowing businesses across the state to reopen without restrictions.

“Southern Seven continues to work with businesses and many other facets of the community to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19,” Ryder said.

Southern Seven has all three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — available for free at each of its county clinics.

For information on how to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or to make an appointment, visit https://www.southern7.org or call 618-634-2297.

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