As circumstances rise in central Illinois, native consultants are calling for masks, hand washing, and social distancing
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Ryan Bandy posted photos on social media of guests packing his bars in Springfield.
“Those were my proudest moments, seeing how many people in your business are having a good time,” said Bandy. “Well, it’s bad to do that. It is wrong to have a full business. And rightly so. “
Bandy has temporarily closed its bar – Win, Lose or Draft – just a few days after greeting customers inside because two of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. He announced the decision on Facebook.
“Honesty is always the best policy,” he said. “And I prefer to be honest with my patrons, my employees and let them know exactly what’s going on when it happens.”
Bandy’s staff are among a surge in new cases in Sangamon County. A dozen residents tested positive for COVID-19 in the first week of June. Last week had over 70 people.
As of Monday, the Sangamon County’s Department of Health reported 24 new cases, a total of 555.
Meanwhile, the nine counties around Springfield had the highest three-day average of new cases since May last week, according to the Southern Illinois School of Medicine.
Local health experts told NPR Illinois the increase was likely due to people going out more now than they did while ordering to stay at home. They encouraged the same techniques to slow the spread – practicing social distancing, wearing face covering when distancing is not possible, and frequent hand washing.
Healthcare executives with SIU Medicine and Memorial Health System both said the increase does not justify a return to further restrictions on corporate and social gatherings.
Credit SIU School of Medicine
The nine-county area around Springfield had its highest three-day average of new cases since May last week, according to the Southern Illinois School of Medicine.
Younger people, fewer hospital stays
Dr. David Graham, senior vice president and chief quality and innovation officer of Memorial Health System, said the number of people in the hospital is fewer than he would expect based on the number of people sick.
Three Sangamon County residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday.
“More and more young people are becoming infected. And they tend to have a little less severe infection and a lower hospitalization rate, ”said Graham. “Although… you can still get very sick no matter how old you are, and people of all ages die from COVID. So we all have to be careful. “
Graham said he believes attitudes about the coronavirus have changed too.
“I think people feel like it won’t affect them. And so they can do more, be around more in crowds, and do more things, ”he said. “A big part of the increase is that we’ve eased the thing that kept the numbers relatively low in central Illinois, namely staying home.”
On June 26, Illinois allowed bars and restaurants to serve a limited number of customers indoors. Salons, gyms, and other retail locations could also open with some restrictions.
However, Graham said the spread of the disease in central Illinois doesn’t mean the restrictions should be reinstated.
Credit SIU School of Medicine
The rolling three-day average of new cases in Illinois has increased slightly, according to the SIU School of Medicine.
“Nice phase reopening”
Dr. Jerry Kruse – dean of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and CEO of SIU Medicine – agrees.
“We saw the beginning of a small climb. We should be really careful, we should be following it closely, ”he said. “But … all in all, all indicators in this area are still good for a well-graded reopening.”
Indicators include test positive rate – the percentage of people who screened positive for COVID-19. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that the rate for central Illinois is 2%. There are twice as many in the Chicago area, but still below the 20% threshold in the reopening plan.
Kruse said hotspots like Arizona and Mississippi have positivity rates in excess of 20%.
“If we see more than one rash, then a little hump in the numbers here, if it keeps going up, then a few days later we will see more hospitalizations and a few days later we will see more deaths. “, Said Kruse. “But we’re not at the point where we could say that we would predict that this would happen.”
As cases rise, local health care executives and public health officials are calling for social distancing, the wearing of masks, and hand hygiene.
Gail O’Neill – director of the Sangamon County Department of Public Health – said the Department of Health is working to track down anyone in contact with someone with a positive case to encourage them to quarantine and slow the spread of the disease.
She said the department may need to hire up to six more contact tracers due to the increase in new cases.
Meanwhile, other restaurants in the area, including the Crow’s Mill Pub, have announced temporary closings. Springfield City and School District 186 have announced that some of their employees have contracted COVID-19.
Bandy – the Win, Lose, or Draft owner – said he would change some operations in his bar when it reopens in the next few days. He said he asked all of his employees to retest for COVID-19 before returning to work.
“I’m reducing the capacity inside, I can’t even sit inside. I’m not sure, ”he said. “But we are expanding the outside seating to be much larger.”