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Health & Wellness

COVID Cases Climb, As Healthcare Workers Push More People to Get Vaccinated

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Illinois reported nearly 8,000 new cases of COVID-19 this week, and southern Illinois accounted for 11% of those cases.

In the WSIU listening area, more than 900 new cases were reported - that compares to 360 new cases last Friday on our region. Fifteen counties are now included in "Warning Status," meaning their test positivity, hospitalizations, and overall case numbers are higher than the state thresholds for safety.

Southern Illinois health leaders say they're seeing an uptick of hospitalizations as COVID case numbers rise - and they're pushing hard for people to get vaccinated.

Jennifer Harre is the Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for SIH. She says while she understands vaccine hesitancy, it's vital that you get your information from reputable sources.

"If you don't trust the person that's giving you the information, then you can be a little bit skeptical. But I think when you actually sit down and have that conversation - it may not be with a healthcare provider, but another healthcare professional that you trust. And then really educate yourself - that's the other piece of this."

Harre points out there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it's important to go to someone with health expertise that you trust to get the answers you need. She also says healthcare workers are tired - and need everyone to step up to fight this virus.

"Now we have more information, now we have vaccines, now we have things that - I'm not saying it's 100% fool-proof, but my goodness, we have measures out there to help prevent patients getting really sick that would never get sick like this, if they'd have just been vaccinated."

SIH reported 13 patients in their COVID units this week - up from less than five just two weeks ago. Harre says they're doing more tests, but positivity rates are up, too - to around 12% in their samples.

Harre says the Delta variant of COVID is present in southern Illinois - and she says it is more contagious and in some cases causing more serious symptoms. She says a large majority of people with severe symptoms, and those in the hospital, are unvaccinated.

Statewide, positivity rates are up to about three-percent, but in southern Illinois that positivity rate is averaging seven-percent. Vaccination rates remain low, as well. Jackson and Union Counties are the highest, at just over 38% fully vaccinated, while Alexander and Pulaski are still the lowest - at 15% and 22%, respectively.

County health leaders all over the region are urging people to get vaccinated if they haven't already - clinics are scheduled and many departments are accepting walk-ins for the shot.

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