Lehde Provides Insight On County COVID-19 Numbers

By Leah Williams

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Washington County Health Department Elizabeth Lehde discussed an update to the coronavirus pandemic during the regularly monthly meeting of the Washington County Board on Tuesday, May 12.

At the time of the meeting, there had been 211 negative test results come back to the health department, and 16 cases had been lab-confirmed as positive with the virus. Since then the county has received a total of 277 negative results and 17 total positive cases (as of Sunday). There are two active cases currently.

“We are kind of in an island,” Lehde said. “Everybody else around has quite a few other cases, and many of those have been linked to outbreaks in congregate living settings or factory facilities. That definitely shows that close contact can cause the spread, and it spreads quickly.”

Lehde discussed that while it has not been the case in Washington County, other neighboring counties increased significantly in a short amount of time. She presumed by looking at the numbers tested based on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, that the other counties surrounding Washington County have also had about 2 percent of its population tested.

“They are climbing 20, 30, 40 in one day because of the exposure,” she said.

“It’s been difficult to decide and determine what has kept our numbers down but our healthcare teams, our emergency response, our hospitals, our doctors and the cooperation of the citizens of Washington County undoubtedly contributed to keeping this number low.”

Lehde said her department continuously monitors data throughout the week and on the weekends to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information during this pandemic. She said while there are antibody tests at this time, it is not being used as a diagnostic by healthcare professionals at this time.

“Some people have had no symptoms, and some have had very mild symptoms,” she said. “It is really hard to determine unless we have that definitive test.”

The Washington County Health Department received a $35,000 grant for use of supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency Management Administrator Matt Bierman said his department had also received a $22,665.43 grant to offset losses incurred during the crisis. Chairman David Meyer said the total amount collected in grants during this time has calculated to about $200,000.

In other county board news, board member Alan Hohlt addressed the board about continued problems with the county dispatchers. He said he believes it is in their training, and as the county gets ready to spend $300,000 on a new 9-1-1 upgrade that utilizes mapping, the dispatchers are not utilizing the service as they should.

“This is not something new that has been happening,” he said. “It has been going on for two years.”

The board approved the purchase of three culverts for Coolidge Road in Johannisburg Township and one for Crouse Road located in Venedy Township.

Ron Auld was approved as the replacement for Marvin Haake on the Washington County Board of Reviews.

The overtime status for Bierman was changed to a straight overtime salary.

State’s Attorney Dan Bronke said his office continues to see a slowdown as a result of the pandemic. The number of cases filed has decreased, and court has been delayed for a couple of weeks.

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