WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Spike in COVID-19 Cases in McDonough County

May 9, 2020

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in McDonough County nearly tripled from May 1 to May 9. The figure stood at 18 on May 1. Now it's 49. 

In addition, two county residents have died from the virus since the end of April.

About 21% of the county's confirmed coronavirus cases involve residents and staff at two long term care facilities in Macomb:

  • Heartland Health Care Center: 3 cases, 1 death
  • The Lamoine: 7 cases

The McDonough County Health Department declined to provide the information to TSPR so we obtained it from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website. TSPR asked Stefanie Johnson, Public Information Officer for the county health department, why the local health department won’t provide the data and update it daily. 

“Currently I don’t know that I have the most updated information. There are a lot of people here working on the outbreaks and the case contacts as well. We’re each kind of doing our own job here,” Johnson said.

She said about 10 people at the department are available to do contact tracing. They include the department’s nurses, plus staff members who have done contact tracing for other health issues such as food borne illnesses. 

In addition to Heartland Health Care Center and The Lamoine, outbreaks have also been reported at a home operated by Mosaic and at Edison Apartments, both also in Macomb.

The state defines an outbreak at a facility as one or more confirmed cases plus cases of others there who are ill with symptoms.

TSPR asked if the health department has been able to test everyone who lives or works at the facilities.

“Everybody who is living or working at one of those facilities that wants to get a test is able to go get a test. It’s not required that everybody gets a test, but if they desire a test, they are able to get one,” she said.

As for reported coronavirus cases at other businesses, Johnson said, “It’s not really my place to confirm or deny if they have a positive case there. That’s more something that their management or ownership can discuss.” 

Johnson said the department hopes people will adhere to the governor’s stay-at-home order and that they will wear a face mask and maintain social distancing while out in public.

“You don’t need a specific type of face mask. You don’t need to have a purchased mask. It can be homemade, it can be a bandana or a scarf or an old t-shirt that’s been cut up. Just something that covers your mouth and nose fully so it’s effective at preventing any droplets from your mouth or nose getting to other people,” Johnson said, adding that people with COVID-19 are infectious 48 hours before symptoms appear. “So you don’t know you’re sick yet and you’re out in public. So if you have that face covering on, it’s going to prevent you from spreading that to anybody else.”

She also said some people might not wear a mask while in public because they’re not medically able to tolerate it. “For example, they may have restrictive breathing because of other health issues. So we need to be kind to each other.”

The IDPH reported no cases of COVID-19 at long term care facilities in any of McDonough’s neighboring counties.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases elsewhere around the tri states region:

  • Warren County, IL: 93
  • Knox County, IL: 69
  • Cass County, IL: 52
  • Adams County, IL: 41 (including one death)
  • Des Moines County, IA: 31 (including one death)
  • Lee County, IA: 18
  • Mason County, IL: 15
  • Hancock County, IL: 11
  • Van Buren County, IA: 8
  • Schuyler County, IL: 7
  • Brown County, IL: 6
  • Henderson County, IL: 6
  • Lewis County, MO: 6 (including one death)
  • Scotland County, MO: 4
  • Fulton County, IL: 3
  • Clark County, MO: 1

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.