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St. Clair County has first COVID-19 related death

By: Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor

St. Clair County Health Department has been notified of the first death related to COVID-19 in St. Clair County. The female patient in her 80s, with underlining health conditions, passed away on March 27, 2020. No additional patient information will be released due to privacy laws. 

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the latest victim of this virus. This is a tragic loss to our community and a reminder that no one is immune to COVID-19. Everyone, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status can be infected if they are exposed to COVID-19. For this reason, everyone must protect themselves, their family, friends, and colleagues by following the preventative measures and social distancing guidelines,” said Mark Kern, St. Clair County Board Chairman. 

St. Clair County Health Department officials are investigating all possible exposures to COVID-19 in accordance with IDPH and CDC guidelines.

In addition to the first death, The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency has announced additional cases of COVID-19, bringing to the total to 15 positive cases out of 203 tested. 106 tests are negative, and 82 tests are pending. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 3,026 cases, including 34 deaths, in 40 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years. 

The newest cases in St. Clair County are not travel related and are believed to be community spread. Community spread means the virus is contracted from someone positive for COVID-19 out in the community. 

Kern asked people to continue to stay home to protect themselves and others, and SCCEMA Director Herb Simmons said municipal mayors throughout the county should consider closing the parks in their communities if people continue to violate social distancing and stay at home orders. 

“I can’t stress enough how vital it is to follow our stay at home order. While the vast majority are doing what the doctors have recommended, we saw people breaking out shorts & heading to the lakefront in Chicago – and that happened in other places across the state too. Throwing all caution to the wind in the midst of a deadly pandemic is not acceptable. You are putting not just yourself, your family and your friends in danger, but also strangers you come in contact with – someone’s parent or child – someone’s spouse or loved one. Right now, hosting a party, crowding down by the lake, playing a pickup basketball game in a public park – if you are doing these things, you are spitting in the face of the doctors and nurses and the first responders who are risking everything so you can survive,” Pritzker said on Thursday, March 26.

He continued “To be very clear, this virus doesn’t care that you’re bored and want to hang out with your friends. It doesn’t care that you don’t believe it’s that dangerous. I don’t tell you this just to scare you. I tell you this to save your life. We all have to own our actions right now — all of us.Ultimately, you’ll be judged by what you do in this moment. I have one job and one job only – to save as many lives as possible. To keep as many people healthy as possible. Until we can develop a treatment and a vaccine. So please, please follow instructions and stay at home.”

Several park systems around the state have closed completely. O’Fallon,Shiloh, and Lebanon have kept their park systems open so far, but Three Springs Park in Shiloh removed their basketball goals after crowds gathered at the park this week. 

During the SCCEMA conference on March 27, Dr. Vinay Bhooma, the Chief Medical Officer of HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, said that he does not believe that Illinois has reached the peak of the virus yet, acknowledging we will continue t see increased cases, many of which could come from community spread.