Audrain County health officials urge safety, social distancing during holiday

Audrain County health officials urge safety, social distancing during holiday
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

To health care professionals, the current increase in new COVID-19 cases across Audrain County and the approaching Thanksgiving holiday add up to potential trouble.

On Monday the Audrain County Health Department followed up last week’s mask advisory with a call for residents to take extra precautions during the holiday weekend, when gatherings of family and friends in close proximity are common. Meanwhile, SSM St. Mary’s Hospital’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Charles Tillman, urged residents to follow the mask advisory as if it were a mandate and warned that healthcare facilities are being stressed by the current wave of cases.

“There’s a surge,” said Dr. Tillman. “We hope everyone understands that. We’re afraid it’s only going to get worse.”

On Friday, ACHD reported 135 active cases in the county, not including those at Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center. There were 106 active cases in the city of Mexico and 13 in Vandalia.

A week earlier there were 67 cases in Mexico. Vandalia remained steady. Mexico School District suspended in-school learning and postponed the high school play. The Community R6 boys basketball team went into quarantine.

Conditions have public health officials concerned about the holiday. ACHD Administrator and CEO Craig Brace called for people to remain at home as much as possible, wear masks when not eating, keep surfaces clean and limit close contact.

But the department stopped short of a mask mandate or a call to shelter in place. Instead, Brace asked people to adapt their Thanksgiving traditions.

“Informal gatherings among friends and families are contributing to the high number of COVID cases in our county,” he pointed out. “The Audrain County Health Department is urging county residents to do everything possible to stop the spread and reduce the rise of COVID-19 cases in the county.”
Monday’s guidelines issued by ACHD advised residents to gather only with those in your household. To have one person serve the meal to limit the spread of germs and to use curbside pick up.

Brace says it is also extremely important to remember that getting the flu vaccine is especially important this year.

“The flu is a vaccine-preventable illness, but still hospitalizes thousands of people each year,” Brace said. “We need to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system.”

Tillman says that hospital staff are working to connect local COVID-19 patients with facilities that have greater resources. He cautioned people not to become complacent.

“I’ve seen people on ventilators, I’ve seen people with lingering problems – you just never know,” Tillman pointed out. “Certain people are at higher risk, but I’ve seen people with low risk have difficult outcomes.”

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