June 8, 2021
Our neighboring counties, Linn and Livingston, have been seeing an explosion of new COVID-19 cases in this past month. These counties made national news, based on the New York Times tracker, as having the highest number of new cases in the country. According to a June 6 news article from ABC News, Livingston County daily cases have more than doubled to 20-25 new cases a day; and, Linn County has “reached a level of transmission not seen before during the pandemic” with 200 active cases.
Linn County Medical Director Dr. Kendal Geno “attributes the spike in the counties to a ‘perfect storm’ of laissez-faire attitudes around mitigation measures and quarantining, the spread of more transmissible COVID-19 variants and low vaccination rates among younger populations.” Many of their cases are in residents younger than 50 where there is great vaccine hesitancy. Out of the 7,946 Macon County residents who have received vaccine, only 31% (or 2,463) under 55 years old have been vaccinated. Most vaccinated residents are over 55 years old. Census data shows that a greater number of Macon County adult residents are less than 55 years old.
You may have read about COVID-19 variants and their ability to spread more easily. DHSS has confirmed a variant in a Macon County resident this past week. Variants have also been found in sewershed testing by DHSS in Macon County. If you’ve been reading the Macon County Health Department’s weekly press releases, we have been seeing a small spike in new cases these past 3 weeks and out of the 40 recent new cases to-date, only 1 was vaccinated.
Macon County is in very similar situations as Linn and Livingston counties. Linn and Livingston have vaccination rates at almost 30% each, whereas Macon County has only slightly more than 25.5% vaccinated. All 3 of us have low vaccination rates among younger residents. All 3 of us have seen COVID-19 variants in confirmed cases. The Highway 36 corridor allows easy access for all residents to travel into each county.
COVID-19 vaccines are starting to prove safe and effective in preventing transmission and reducing the health effects for those few vaccinated people who get infected. According to YaleMedicine.org, the Pfizer vaccine is proving to be 95% effective; Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective; and, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 72% effective. Both Pfizer and Moderna are a 2-shot series. All 3 vaccines are free and available in Macon County at local vaccinators such as Macon County Health Department and Samaritan Hospital, as well as some local pharmacies. The nurses at the health department are knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions you may have about the vaccines.
We still recommend precautions when you are out in crowds especially those who are not vaccinated, wearing masks and keeping your distance. If travelling to areas of high transmission we recommend all residents wear masks and keep your distance from others. If you have questions about receiving COVID-19 vaccine, or would like to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine, call the health department at 660-395-4711 and speak to one of our nurses.
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