The Effingham County Health Department on Friday received confirmation of the COVID-related death of a man in his 70s, bringing the county’s total to 78 deaths since the pandemic began.
The department also reported 180 new positive cases of COVID-19 since Monday. When added to the weekend numbers released on Monday, the seven-day total amounted to 227 cases – or 100 cases more than the previous seven-day total.
Thirty percent of the 180 new cases are school age children, according to health officials. Among the cases reported Friday: A boy and a girl under 1; 11 boys and 11 girls under 10; and 16 boys and 25 girls in their teens. The rest of the cases involved men and women from their 20s through their 80s.
“Please do not send children to school who are sick or who have been close contacts to positive cases,” the health department said in a press release.
The latest health department report comes as a teacher in Dieterich elected to go on personal leave Friday following the implementation of the school district’s mask mandate this week.
Dieterich Unit 30 Superintendent Cary Jackson confirmed that the teacher had decided to take days off in lieu of working through the mandate, which took effect on Thursday.
Dieterich’s school board voted Tuesday to go along with Gov. JB Pritzker’s mandate of masking in schools, with six members of the board voting for the mandate, but under protest. The district had been on probation by the Illinois State Board of Education, along with districts such as Teutopolis, Beecher City, Altamont, St. Elmo and Vandalia due to their initial refusal to change policies in order to meet with the new mandate.
Dieterich joined Effingham and Altamont as school districts in the area to mandate masks, with Altamont joining following a short probationary phase.
Teutopolis and Beecher City remain on probation, which lasts 60 days before a school is unrecognized by ISBE. The lack of recognition could mean the end of state and local funding to districts, along with ineligibility of athletes for state competitions.
The Dieterich teacher did not respond Friday afternoon to a request by the Effingham Daily News for an interview.
The Illinois Region 6 rolling test positivity was 8.4% through Aug. 30, with Effingham County at 17.2% for the same period.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported 30,319 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 178 additional deaths since Aug. 27. More than 78% of Illinois adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and more than 61% of Illinois adults are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,538,324 cases, including 24,067 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Since reporting on Aug. 27, laboratories have reported 609,585 specimens for a total of 29,177,890. As of Thursday night, 2,286 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 551 patients were in the ICU and 302 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
A total of 14,005,857 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of Thursday. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 26,431 doses. Since reporting on Aug. 27, 185,014 doses were reported administered in Illinois.
“Vaccination is the key to ending this pandemic,” IDPH said in a press release. “To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you, go to www.vaccines.gov.
As hospitals and schools work to implement additional COVID-19 testing programs and accountability measures, Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike on Friday announced a two-week extension of vaccination requirements for individuals in high-risk settings.
All healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all P-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 19. The extended deadline came at the request of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), as well as education leaders including the Illinois Education Association (IEA), Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), and Illinois Principals Association (IPA), who best understand the localized needs of hospitals and schools implementing their own testing, vaccine and accountability protocols.
Entities continue to be permitted and encouraged to put in place more stringent vaccination requirements. The Executive Order does not prohibit any entity from implementing a requirement that personnel, contractors, students or other visitors be fully vaccinated without providing the alternative to test on a weekly basis consistent with applicable law.
“Vaccines remain our strongest tool to protect ourselves from COVID-19, the Delta variant, and most crucially, to maintain our healthcare system’s ability to care for anyone who walks through their doors in need of help,” Pritzker said in a press release. “While hospitals and schools move forward in good faith, this extension ensures they are prepared to meet this requirement to better protect our most vulnerable residents and children who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated.”
“Even as our hospitals and schools are taking the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the testing and accountability measures mandated in Executive Order 2021-22, we recognize that some institutions will need additional time in which to establish procedures that will guarantee they are compliant,” Ezike said in the release. “Our primary goal is to make sure that healthcare workers, education employees and students are protected, along with their families and communities, and this extension will help us achieve that goal.”
The Effingham County Health Department urged everyone to:
• Distance socially
• Use masks
• Practice hand hygiene
• Socialize outdoors or in well ventilated locations
• Avoid crowds
• Isolate and quarantine when required
Additional information and COVID-19 data can be found at dph.illinois.gov/covid19 .
Effingham Daily News reporter Zach Roth contributed to this report.