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Randolph County reports 6 COVID-19 cases; most in southern Illinois

  • One employee at Gilster Mary-Lee has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

    One employee at Gilster Mary-Lee has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
    Judy Shields photo/Shots by Shields

Herald Tribune staff report
updated: 4/1/2020 3:56 PM

Randolph County has six confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon, and at least some of them are because people ignored the cautions about not getting together in social groups, the Randolph County Health Department has reported.

The patients' age, gender, hometowns and current conditions have not been disclosed by the health department and will not be, in order to protect their privacy, a news release said.

"The diagnosis alone will heighten their frustration and stress level and we will respect their privacy during this time of healing," the release adds.

However, Angela Oathout, public health administrator at the Randolph County Health Department, is urging residents to stay home and not get together with friends.

"Nonessential group gatherings has attributed to the increase in cases here in Randolph," she said Tuesday. She did not provide further details, so as to not unintentionally identify the patients.

The six cases does not include a worker at the Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. in Chester, because that individual lives in Perry County, Missouri. That case was made public on Saturday.

The six cases at the moment makes Randolph County the leader in COVID cases in southern Illinois. Cases have also been reported in Jackson, Williamson, Franklin and Saline counties.

In Tuesday's news release, the Randolph County Health Department said it is working closely with local health care providers, first responders, EMS and the Illinois Department of Health to monitor the six individuals who are under isolation.

"We are working to identify and notify anyone who has been in close contact with the individuals," the release adds.

The Gilster Mary-Lee employee is being monitored by the Perry County (Missouri) Health Department. Employees who were in close contact with the patient have been asked to remain at home in isolation for a period of 14 days and monitor their symptoms.

Glister Mary-Lee Corp. is interviewing employees and monitoring their temperatures to determine if anyone else is at risk. GLM Corp. is working closely with the Department of Public Health and following all the appropriate next steps to ensure employee and public health.

Individuals who are ill and exhibit similar symptoms will be asked to stay home. If an individual is confirmed positive for the COVID-19 or is a close contact with an individual who is confirmed COVID-19, he or she will be isolated for a period of 14 days unless they require further hospitalization or medical treatment.

The health department urges residents to practice social distancing by using the 6-foot rule, avoid group gatherings, practice good hand hygiene by using soap and water, use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, avoid nonessential trips and stay home.

As best as is known, there have been no COVID-19 related deaths so far in southern Illinois.