By Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor
City of O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach said business is moving forward in O’Fallon, and remains optimistic that the city’s residents will overcome the virus. Case numbers in the state and county continue to rise, including a large jump in county cases and deaths.
St. Clair County now has 482 positive cases, an increase of increase of 28 from yesterday, and includes males and females from under 10 years old up to the 100s. 2,080 residents have been tested. 1,548 tests have been negative, and 50 tests are pending result.
There are 51 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the county with five of those patients on ventilators.
The county is reporting seven new deaths for a total of 37 deaths. The most recent deaths include females and males from the 50s through the 100s, and six of the seven had underlying health conditions.
Long term care facilities in outbreak status:
BRIA of Belleville: 12 cases and 2 deaths
Colonnade of O’Fallon: 2 cases, 0 deaths
Four Fountains in Belleville: 51 cases and 6 deaths
Memorial Care Center in Belleville: 43 cases and 5 deaths
St. Paul’s Home in Belleville: 5 cases and 0 deaths
Lebanon Care Center in Lebanon: 21 cases and 2 deaths
St. Clair County Health Department Emergency Response Coordinator Samantha Bierman reminded watchers that May 1 is the first day of Governor JB Pritzker’s new, modified order, and said they county has received several questions about when masks need to be worn. Per the governor’s order, masks must be worn in all public places where a six foot social distance cannot be maintained.
“Our best suggestion is to have a mask with you no matter where you go. Some stores may have a policy in place that to enter that store, you have to be wearing a mask, and they have the right to do so. So, it’s always best just to have a mask with you, that way if you have to run into a specific store and they have that policy in place, you’ll be ready to go. If they don’t, and you are able to keep six feet of social distance between you and someone else, it’s not necessary, but always good to have one with you just in case,” she said.
The Mayor’s Visit
O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach visited the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency team for the daily broadcast.
“We were fortunate, and our team got together early on when we knew things were coming down and we put together a three step approach. We’re in the third stage now,” Roach said.
He added that 90 percent of the city’s employees are able to work virtually while City Hall is closed. “Our IT staff did a great job putting this together so we didn’t miss a lick. City Hall, you normally have maybe 44 people working there. We probably have three to four on the lower floor and three on the upper floor, well distanced apart from one another.”
In addition to social distancing measures, the city asks that “all of our employees, regardless, take their temperature daily and fill out a daily report form and turn that in so we’re pretty cognizant of where they’re at with their health as we’re moving forward. It’s important that we keep them healthy as well because without them, we can’t get services to our residents that they need,” said Mayor Roach.
None of the city’s employees have had to be laid off.
He said permits, building inspections and development projects are continuing, including a newly approved three story office building on Highway 50, and infrastructure for a new apartment complex “on the East side of town, which will be 200 apartments, and four or five different types of retail operations going in there. Plans continue. We continue to talk to others interested in coming into O’Fallon. Business is as normal,” said Roach.
Mayor Roach mentioned that the City of O’Fallon’s parks are being monitored for appropriate social distancing, and mentioned that the playgrounds, basketball courts, and many of the ball fields are closed. When St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern mentioned that O’Fallon’s parks are home to several different tournaments and programs that draw tourists, Roach said “I would rate our parks among the best in Southern Illinois. Our park staff is constantly monitoring, and is monitoring our programs now to find out which we can go forward with. They work on that on a daily basis.”
The mayor praised the city staff members for their hard work during the pandemic, including public safety officials.
“I can’t say enough about our public safety people. Our Chief of Police (Eric Van Hook) led this. From day one when we knew things were coming down, we had a meeting with our schools, our churches, our retirement centers, large recplex programs to fill them in. Eric took the lead on that because we wanted to give as much information as they could have, and accurate information, because we knew eventually they were going to have to make tough decisions. What’s worse than having to make tough decisions without accurate information to make those decisions,” said Roach.
Roach and other city administrators are looking at what needs to happen to move forward with the new normal for the city and its residents, including working with O’Fallon businesses to decrease fees paid to the city, and to delay some of the permits the businesses may need from the city.
Mayor Roach thanked St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Herb Simmons, as well as his staff, for all of the communication to the county’s residents.
Roach, who has been working extended hours during the pandemic, said “We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to come out on the better side.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 2,563 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 141 additional deaths. Brown County is now reporting a case. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 52,918 cases, including 2,355 deaths, in 97 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 13,200 specimens for a total of 269,867.