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home : local news : local news

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With infrequent testing, COVID-19 absent in county

By Bill Richardson

LAWRENCEVILLE - Lawrence County Health Department administrator Amy Marley reported on Monday afternoon that there were no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Lawrence County, but added a giant-sized caveat.

Marley acknowledged that fewer than 10 tests for the virus had been administered to Lawrence County citizens, and that none had been given since March 15.

"The criteria for testing is very restricted," she said. "They're only testing those key patients who are in hospitals, to determine what type of isolation is needed, and those on congregate settings, where the rate of transmission is high. Right now, that's just where it's at."

The closest reported case to Lawrence County in Illinois is in Cumberland County, approximately 60 miles to the northwest. On Monday, the first case in Sullivan County, Indiana - about 40 miles from Lawrenceville - was confirmed. Cases have also been confirmed in the nearby Indiana counties of Dubois, Vigo and Vanderburgh.

Marley stressed that once a case in Lawrence County is confirmed, her department would be quick in announcing it.

"I want to stop the rumors," she said. "In the event a case is discovered in the county, the health department will notify everyone. We will be making public statements, when it's official and we have a confirmed case. We will not hide that."

In general, Marley has been impressed with the way Lawrence Countians have complied with an order handed down by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker last week, which in essence requires non-essential workers to stay home. There are limited exceptions, such as visiting a grocery store, a pharmacy or a doctor.

"Most people are complying, but there is room for improvement," she said.

Marley suggests that people try to get the most out of a trip to the grocery or elsewhere.

"Going to the grocery store doesn't need to be a daily trip," she said. "It'd be better to plan a shopping list for the week. We're asking them to shop for a week at a time, yet not hoard supplies so that others can shop, too. Everyone just needs to be mindful of where they're going and who they're around."

Marley agrees that it's a matter of time until someone in Lawrence County tests positive. She asks that rather than immediately going to the health department or the emergency room, that person call their health care provider. At that point, arrangements can be made to see the patient.

Marley reminds citizens that the health department has established a 24-hour hotline for anyone who has questions. A health department official can be reached by dialing 812-213-0199. Questions can also be answered by emailing covid19@lchealth.com. The email address will be monitored around the clock, according to health department officials.





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