Southern Seven Health Department received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines designated to the seven-county region Dec. 16. The department has started a vaccine registry for anyone in the Southern Seven region who is interested in getting the vaccine.

Shawnee Community College has teamed up with the Illinois Department of Public Health to serve as a host site for COVID-19 testing.

The testing is being conducted by the IDPH free of charge from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, on the college’s main campus in Ullin. The testing options include both drive-thru and walk-up testing parking lot. The testing date coincides with the first day of spring classes at SCC and offers students and community members an opportunity for testing.

“We are pleased to partner with the IDPH for this testing opportunity,” said Dr. Kristin Shelby, SCC Dean of Academic Affairs. “We hope that that the opportunity allows students, faculty, and staff to take advantage of the opportunity along with community members and will help us mitigate a potential increase in COVID cases on campus.”

For more information, contact Shelby at 618-634-3240.

Southern Seven launches COVID-19 Vaccine RegistrySouthern Seven Health Department is inviting anyone in the southern seven counties — Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union — who is interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine to add their name to the health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Registry. A link to the online contact list has been posted on Southern Seven’s Facebook page and its website at The sign-up form can also be visited directly with the following link:

“We have started to see a sizable increase in the amount of calls coming into the health department with people wondering when they might be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Nathan Ryder, outreach coordinator for Southern Seven’s Contact Tracing program. “We have elderly folks who are concerned they might get skipped when it comes time for them to get a vaccine. We also have a lot of people who may not have access to the internet or traditional news media.

“It’s important to note that this is not a reservation form, a vaccination appointment or a ‘wait list,’” he continued. “It is simply a way for us to maintain a list of contacts so we can keep people notified of the different vaccination phases as we move through them. We will also continue to update vaccination opportunities on our social media channels like Facebook and Twitter in addition to our print, radio and TV news outlets in the region.”

Based on current guidance from Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Southern Seven expects to receive a weekly shipment of vaccine. These vaccines will be distributed throughout the seven counties based on guidance from IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

Currently, COVID-19 vaccinations are being provided to frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities under Phase 1A of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program. Phase 1 is characterized by having access to a limited amount of COVID-19 vaccine. It is anticipated we will be in Phase 1 until the end of January.

For questions regarding COVID-19, contact Southern Seven at 618-634-2297 or on Facebook or online at

Massac County records no COVID deathsSince the last edition of the Metropolis Planet, there were no deaths in Massac County confirmed as the result of COVID-19, the Southern Seven Health Department announced Tuesday.

Through Tuesday, Southern Seven confirmed 26 deaths due COVID-19 in Massac County since August.

The county had 16 new cases on Tuesday — two in their 10s; three teenagers; three in their 20s; one in their 30s; four in their 40s; and one each in their 50s, 60s and 80 or above. Massac County now has 918 total cases, 592 of which are recovered and 300 are active.

Southern Seven reports 76 deaths in the region — Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties — since the start of the pandemic.

Administration still ‘in a pause’ when considering mitigation rollbacksThe statewide COVID-19 positivity rate ticked down slightly on Tuesday to 8.5%, marking nearly a month that the rate has stayed below 10%.

The rolling seven-day average statewide case positivity rate dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point, from 8.6% the day before. The rate has remained below 10% since Dec. 8, and well below second-wave highs of 13.2% in mid-November.

On Tuesday, IDPH reported 6839 new confirmed and probable cases of the virus, among 991,719 total cases and more than 13.6 million tests since the pandemic began.

The state’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 16,959, including 126 additional deaths reported Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, only four of the state’s 11 mitigation regions had not met the criteria Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration provided to return to Tier 2 mitigations, from Tier 3. Those areas are Region 4, which covers five southwestern counties along the Missouri border; Region 5, which spans 20 counties in southern Illinois, which includes Massac County; Region 6, which covers 21 southeastern counties reaching the Indiana border; and Region 9, which includes McHenry and Lake counties.

Jordan Abudayyeh, the governor’s spokesperson, said in an email Monday that the administration is “in a pause in mitigation moves to see what impact holiday gatherings have on the data.”

The entire state came under the more restrictive Tier 3 public health measures on Nov. 30 in an effort to slow the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Under Tier 3, businesses — such as fitness centers and hotels — must follow 25% capacity limits, and bars and restaurants are closed to indoor service. In addition, Tier 3 mitigations shut down casinos, gaming terminals, theaters, performing arts centers and indoor museums and amusement centers, among other indoor recreation places.

The criteria for moving to Tier 2 requires a test positivity rate less than 12% for three consecutive days, greater than 20% intensive care unit and medical or surgical bed availability for three consecutive days, and a decline in the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital in at least seven out of the last 10 days.

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