If you’ve been avoiding or even cancelled routine medical exams and cancer screenings due to COVID-19, Southern Seven Health Department encourages you to make time this January to schedule your medical appointments for the year and get your health back on track.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by June 30, 2020, because of concerns about COVID-19, an estimated 41% (that’s 4 in 10) of U.S. adults had delayed or avoided medical care, including urgent or emergency care (12%) and routine care (32%).

“This delay or avoidance of medical care could increase illnesses and deaths associated with both chronic and acute health conditions for years to come,” said Shawnna Rhine, Southern Seven’s community outreach coordinator.

While doctors are reporting in-person appointments are increasing, many patients still haven’t rescheduled annual exams such as colonoscopies, mammograms and eye and dental exams.

“Know that medical offices continue to take every precaution to keep you and your family safe, and encourage you to call if you have any questions,” Rhine said.

To help make the most of your scheduling time, Southern Seven has provided a brief list of the most common medical exams to consider when planning your appointment. Talk with your doctor to find out what exams are right for you based on your particular health situation. The list includes:

• Wellness check-up to determine current health issues and next steps of care. This visit normally includes updating blood work, taking of blood pressure and oxygen levels, and mobility and mental health exam.

• Annual cancer screenings including colonoscopies, mammograms, gynecologic, prostate, skin, etc. You can also request a free at-home colon cancer screening kit from Southern Seven.

• Eye exam.

• Hearing check.

• Dental exam and cleaning.

• Update immunizations including flu, pneumonia and shingles.

“While it’s normal to still have concerns about COVID-19, visiting your doctor is safe to do. Continue to take precautions against the virus such as wearing a mask, watching your social distance and washing your hands,” Rhine said.

The COVID-19 shot or booster is still available at any of Southern Seven’s regional offices in Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties. To schedule an appointment, call 618-634-2297. For more information, visit southern7.org.

The entire Southern Seven region remains in the Orange Warning Level status for COVID.

As of Tuesday, Massac County has had 2587 cumulative COVID cases since the pandemic began in the region in April 2020. Of those, 2427 have recovered and 104 are active. There have been 56 deaths reported in Massac County, two of those from Dec. 22-28 — a male in his 40s and a male in his 60s.

From Dec. 22-28, Southern Seven reported 73 new cases of COVID in Massac County — three in less than 10-years-old; five teenagers; eight in their 20s; five in their 30s; 11 in their 40s; 17 in their 50s; 15 in their 60s; six in their 70s; and three in their 80s or above.

As of Tuesday, 11,967 Massac Countians have received the vaccine since it became available in December 2020. Of that number, 5,046 have been fully vaccinated — that’s 35.84% of the county’s population.

From Dec. 22-28, Southern Seven reported 273 new cases of COVID and 251 recoveries in the region. There have been 12,307 cumulative cases in the Southern Seven region since the pandemic began in April 2020. The region has had 187 deaths since the pandemic began. A total of 26,393 variant cases have been reported in the state through Tuesday.

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