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Health & Wellness

COVID Positivity, Hospitalizations Spiking Across Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois Healthcare leaders say the COVID spike in this region is dramatic - with cases growing more quickly now than during the surge at the end of January.

Doctor Marci Moore-Connelley is the Chief Medical Officer for SIH. She says July has been particularly hard.

"We were at 2% positive. We had 1-2 patients admitted per week with COVID, and over the last 30 days we've seen a dramatic increase. We are now at a positivity rate of 15%, and we have - currently - 22 patients in with COVID."

Moore-Connelley says of the 22 patients in the hospital, 19 of them are unvaccinated. She says they're working on ways to increase vaccination rates, particularly in southern Illinois where those rates hover around 35% - or in some cases much lower.

With schools preparing to welcome students back in the next couple of weeks, Dr. Moore-Connelley says concern focuses on younger children who cannot yet be vaccinated - and the further spread of disease.

"We want kids to be in school, absolutely. I have kids, and I want them to be in school and have in-person all year long. I think the safest way to do that is just to have them continue to use some of the precautions that they were using at the end of the school year last year - maintaining distancing, masking, all those things, and having them continue to go in-person, but to do it in a safe way."

She also says healthcare professionals are weary - and frustrated as the numbers spike back up.

"We all got a taste of what it was like to live somewhat normally again - and that was really good. So we want that back, and we want to sustain that, and the answer to that is people getting vaccinated."

Moore-Connelley urges people who are still unvaccinated to talk to a healthcare professional they trust - to get their questions answered and dispel misinformation.

Vaccines are available at your local health department, most pharmacies, and at doctors offices.

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