It’s not the news we all hoped for as we go into the holiday and winter flu season. COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country, hospital beds are filling up, and the health care system is being pushed to the limits, prompting more restrictions. Our Governor, J.B. Pritzker, has had to make the hard call to limit capacity in many businesses, including restaurants, retail shops, casinos, museums, and indoor entertainment facilities.
A couple of weeks ago, the Governor issued a new set of COVID-19 restrictions asking that we limit gatherings and asking Illinois residents to stay home as much as possible and follow safety measures when out in public. If you traveled over Thanksgiving, please get tested for COVID. Many people have come up positive after being on a plane or train or even just visiting family.
If you have to go to a work environment or are an employer, please follow the guidelines.
- Work from home if possible, and allow telework.
- Practice social distancing everywhere in the facility, even at your desk,
- Wear face coverings as much as possible and provide masks for employees and visitors,
- Limit visitors, but if you must see clients/customers, follow all social distancing best practices.
- Allow for 50 percent capacity in office spaces, 50 percent of store capacity for grocery stores and pharmacies, and 25 percent store capacity for other retail and big box stores.
Restaurants and bars MUST close from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. No indoor service is allowed at this time, only outdoor seating at tables six feet apart with less than six people per table allowed.
Fitness and exercise gyms must require reservations to ensure capacity is strictly limited to 25%. There will be no indoor group classes allowed. Face coverings must be worn at all times, and locker rooms must be closed. Personal services like spas, hair and nail salons, etc., must cap occupancy at 25%, with face coverings mandatory.
In general, things are tightening up a fair bit again to slow down the virus’s spread and make sure we don’t overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Please note that as of Monday, December 7, Horizon Health’s EZ Care clinics in both Marshall and Paris became respiratory care centers. They are only seeing people with COVID-19 symptoms, influenza, and other respiratory breathing issues. Every patient will be tested for COVID if it appears necessary and then will be seen by a medical provider.
Flu Season is upon us – please be extra cautious this year.
As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we all must take extra precautions and set restrictions to keep our family members, especially those most at risk of illness, from getting sick.
Some things that will help:
- Extra handwashing: Yes, we know you are sick of hearing, “wash your hands.” but it is one of the most important and impactful things you can do to stop the spread of germs. Make everyone in the house wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every time they come into the house, before eating or cooking food, and of course, when they use the bathroom. Avoid touching mouth, nose, and eyes and have hand sanitizers available in the house, car, garage, bathroom, and kitchen; near any surfaces that get touched frequently.
- Keep all surfaces in the house and vehicles and frequently touched areas in your home clean. Wipe down everything you can with disinfectant and wipes. Find ones that do not use harsh chemicals, so they don’t get kids and pets sick. It may not be fun, but when you bring home items from the grocery store, wipe down all exterior surfaces of the products with germ-killing wipes, then wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
- Eat well. Make sure you and all your family members eat a lot of healthy fruits and green leafy vegetables. Take vitamins and antioxidants, anything that boosts immunity like Vitamin C, Zinc, and other immunity-boosting supplements.
- Get lots of rest, sleep, and exercise. When your body rests, you give it the best chance of staying healthy.
Vaccines are on the way. Who will be considered essential?
As you have no doubt heard, some vaccines will soon be distributed worldwide. Many companies and industries, due to the restrictions, are vying to get their workers to be the first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. It is being debated as to who is essential and who is not.
If you work in a hospital or medical facility, you are likely to be among the first to get the vaccine. Patients at risk, especially the elderly in nursing homes, will also be among the first to get vaccinated. Workers in meatpacking plants, factories, and warehouses may be next in line, and companies are pushing for that to happen and to have their workers consider “essential.”
At first, vaccine availability will be limited. There is no federal guidance to date, so it will be up to each state to determine who will be among the first to receive the vaccine and who will have to wait.
Food delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats are among the industries being looked at as possibly considered essential. Teachers and retail workers, particularly in grocery stores and pharmacies, will be considered for early vaccination.
You may be a worker in any of these industries, and here in Marshall, we will do our part to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe while we wait for the vaccines to arrive. In the meantime, if you go out to shop, see family, or go to work, follow the guidelines, and think of others. We are in this together, and together, we will get through this winter season.