COVID-19 numbers in some parts of southern Illinois going the wrong way
Concern is mounting among public health professionals that some areas of southern Illinois could be in danger of seeing COVID-19 cases rise again -- and that many of those cases could be the more dangerous Delta Variant.
As a region, southern Illinois has the fewest number of fully vaccinated residents in the state, according to Illinois Department of Public Health statistics.
And while Perry County's COVID-19 numbers are low and well under the "warning" stage, adjacent to Perry is Randolph County, which -- like other river counties facing Missouri -- there is concern that there could be a resurgence of cases.
Randolph County Health Administrator Angela Oathout noted that on July 6 the county had 16 active cases of COVID-19, including two patients who were hospitalized. A day later there were 25 active cases. On July 9, the most recent statistics, the number of active cases had fallen to 22, but Oathout said her concern is the number of unvaccinated people.
"Only 36% of Randolph County residents are fully vaccinated," Oathout said in a news release.
"Positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Randolph as well as the Metro East region," she added. "It is suspected that this is due to the Delta Variant that is 50-60% more contagious than the last variant."
Missouri is experiencing a surge, Oathout added, with a large portion of these cases being identified as the Delta Variant.
"Hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients are rising significantly," and patients are in need of higher respiratory care including intubation and ventilation," she warned.
She said Missouri officials were particularly concerned over the Fourth of July holiday, as visitors returned home from Lake of the Ozarks and Branson. A high percentage of weekenders were from the St. Louis area, she added.
Vaccination rates in the river counties
According to the IDPH, on July 9, the numbers looked like this:
• Alexander County: 14.69% (6,060 pop.)
• Jackson County: 38.04% (57,419 pop.)
• Madison County: 42.36% (264,461 pop.)
• Monroe County: 46.24% (34,335 pop.)
• Perry County*: 34.03% (21,174 pop.)
• Randolph County: 36.54% (32,106 pop.)
• St. Clair County: 40.57% (261,059 pop.)
• Union County: 37.61% (16,841 pop.)
By comparison, the three most populated counties in the Chicago area are over 50% vaccinated:
Cook County: 53.18% (2,474,499 pop)
DuPage County: 57.69% (928,589 pop)
Lake County: 50.20% (700,832 pop.)
* Not adjacent to the Mississippi River, but included for comparison sake.