Madison County stops COVID-19 dashboard updates

While the COVID-19 community level for Madison County remains at medium, the Madison County Health Department is making changes to its COVID data reporting to better reflect a growing number of cases.

As of June 1, the MCHD is no longer updating its COVID-19 dashboard, which among things listed the number of confirmed new cases by day and by week.

“It was time to do that because there are reports that suggest the actual case rate may be five to 10 times higher,” MCHD Director Toni Corona said. “The reality is that COVID test kits have become much more widely available, and those cases are unreported in the data that we were using.

“It’s not a fair number to give to the public. It makes sense that we stick with the indicators that the state and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have selected. The community transmission indicator is still the best gauge for the public to utilize when they’re assessing what they should be doing.”

After being listed as low for several months, the community level for Madison County changed to medium as of May 19.

Corona said the change is reflective of many counties in Illinois and throughout the United States.

“Madison County has been at the yellow level (medium) for the last couple of weeks and that means that our cases are indeed rising,” Corona said. “Fortunately, it’s not overburdening or taxing the healthcare system to any significant degree of concern.”

Corona noted that for a six-day period from June 1-6, Madison County reported 578 new cases of COVID.

No deaths were reported, leaving the number of COVID-related deaths in the county at 794 since the start of the pandemic, including 143 since Jan. 1.

“If you look at the CDC COVID tracker, you’ll see that in northern Illinois, there are multiple counties now with a community level of high, which means they are starting to see an increase in hospitalizations,” Corona said. “If we follow those trends, it’s possible that (Madison County) could be at that level again in a couple of weeks.

“It’s not to scare people or to cause alarm, it’s to make sure that people understand their situation and have awareness of it, and to make sure they take precautions and preventative measures that they feel they need to reduce the risk of severe illness.”

The increase in the COVID community level serves as a reminder that people with a high risk of severe illness, as well as those around me, need to remain vigilant.

“Those are the folks that really need to pay attention to that,” Corona said. “They should make the choice of wearing masks if they are going out in public.

“You certainly need to stay up to date on your vaccines and get a second booster shot if you’re eligible. Also, please get tested if you’ve had symptoms of COVID or if you’ve had a known exposure.”

Corona added that both St. Louis County and St. Louis City now have a community level of high, with recommended actions including wearing a mask indoors and on public transportation. Several employers are now requiring their employees to wear masks again indoors while working.

“St. Louis City and St. County County and the Metro East are too interchangeable not to pay attention to that,” Corona said. “There are four counties within our Illinois region (Madison, St. Clair, Bond and Clinton) with a community level of medium. St. Louis City and St. Louis County, like those counties in northern Illinois, are starting to see an increase in hospitalizations.

“In Madison County, we will respond to the situation in whatever way we need to respond to make sure the community is aware of what is happening. At this point, it’s important for people to decide on their own what precautions and preventive measures they should take.”

Still, Corona remains upbeat for the most part, despite the increase in the number of COVID cases.

“We’re in a different place in this pandemic now than we were two years ago or even a year ago,” Corona said. “We have vaccines in place and there are many options to treat COVID, such as monoclonal antibodies and antivirals, and some cases pre-exposure.

“There are meds that folks can take, so this is an appropriate time for people to gauge what their comfort level is as far as what they do when they’re out in the community. That’s not to lose sight that COVID is still very much in the community and this (Omicron) variant is pretty contagious. Fortunately, with most vaccinated people, the risk of severe illness seems to be on a decline.”

Comments are closed.