Over the course of the last two weeks, Aug. 11-24, the Southern Seven Health Department has reported 603 newly confirmed cases of COVID.

According to Nathan Ryder, Southern Seven’s contact tracing outreach coordinator, there have been three of those days where children made up a great percentage of those numbers — on Aug. 11, 37% of children made up new cases when during the same period in 2020, children accounted for 10% of daily cases. On Thursday, Aug. 19, 40% of school-aged children made up the confirmed cases. Tuesday’s report showed 44% of children making up the confirmed numbers.

“Please impress upon your family, friends and co-workers that we need to band together to get our disease-spread under control,” Ryder said. “The spread of COVID-19 is preventable with the use of vaccines, face masks, frequent hand-washing, social distancing and avoiding crowded indoor situations. Our regional hospitals are experiencing a surge in hospitalizations and visits to the emergency departments.”

Six of the Southern Seven counties — Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pulaski and Union — remain at the Orange Warning Level. Pope County returned to a stable status on Aug. 20. On Friday, Massac County had 476 potential new cases (based on 67 positive cases) per 100,000 reported. The test positivity percentage for the county was 11.7% out of 384 tests. ICU availability was 8.6%.

From Aug. 11-24, 127 new cases of COVID — 13 less than 10-years-old; 19 teenagers; 21 in their 20s; 12 in their 30s; 13 in their 40s; 19 in their 50s; 16 in their 60s; 11 in their 70s; and three in their 80s or above — were reported in Massac County. As of Tuesday, Massac County has reached 1634 total cases since the pandemic began. Of that number, 1518 have recovered.

As of Tuesday, there were 79 active cases. As of Tuesday, 8620 have received the vaccine since it became available in December 2020. Of that number, 4138 have been fully vaccinated — meaning 29.39% of the county’s population has been fully vaccinated.

During the last two weeks, Southern Seven has reported a total of eight deaths due to COVID in its region, bringing the death toll to 111 since May 4, 2020. Of those eight, two were in Massac County — a male in his 60s, reported on Aug. 12, and a female in her 30s, reported on Aug. 18 — bringing the county’s number of deaths since the pandemic began to 37.

There have been 8445 cumulative cases in the Southern Seven region since the pandemic began, 603 of those from Aug. 11-24, with 502 newly confirmed cases reported during that time period.

The state’s recovery rate from COVID is 98%. A total of 12,926 variant cases have been reported in the state through Tuesday.

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Southern Seven began offering booster COVID-19 shots for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised this week.

Currently, the CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of the mRNA vaccines. This includes people who have: been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood; received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system; received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system; moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome); advanced or untreated HIV infection; or active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

“Right now, booster shots are only available for individuals who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,” Ryder said. “That booster shot will likely give our immunocompromised community members an increased level of protection against COVID-19. Currently, a booster shot for the J&J vaccine has not been authorized.”

The COVID-19 booster shots for immunocompromised people will be administered by appointment at Southern Seven offices. To schedule an appointment, call 618-634-2297 or visit Southern Seven on Facebook or online at www.southern7.org.

“It’s important to note that individuals can self-attest and receive the third dose wherever vaccines are offered, which may include your local pharmacy,” Ryder said.

According to the CDC, people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised make up about 3% of the adult population and are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious illness.

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