|Two in Lawrence County test positive for COVID-19|
By Bill Richardson
LAWRENCEVILLE - The Lawrence County Health Department on Monday confirmed the first two coronavirus cases within the county borders.
About 1:30 p.m., the health department announced in a press release that an employee of the Mach-1 convenience store, 1502 State Street, was infected with the virus. Sally Gerold, using social media, later identified herself as that person. She has been in quarantine at her home since April 1.
About 9 p.m., the health department confirmed a second case, also believed to be a female. According to a press release, that person was admitted to Lawrence County Memorial Hospital.
"I think it was inevitable," said Amy Marley, administrator at the Lawrence County Health Department. "We all knew that eventually we'd have a case. Right now we're taking all measures possible. Once again, I think this serves as a reminder that at this point, social distancing is extremely important."
The Lawrenceville Mach 1 store was immediately closed, according to Alan Meyer, the Chief Operating Officer of Meyer Oil, which owns a chain of the convenience stores.
Service Master, from Indianapolis, was to be at the store on Tuesday morning to begin a deep-cleaning process.
According to the health department press release, Gerold worked from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m., on both March 30 and April 1.
"If you were a customer in Mach-1 during or around that time, please be aware of the COVID-19 symptoms and immediately self-quarantine if you begin to experience symptoms," the press release said.
Symptoms include, a fever, a cough and shortness of breath.
Those who visited the store between those hours on those days are not considered to be at extreme risk, according to Marley.
"If you were in Mach-1 for less than 10 minutes, you are considered low risk," she said.
The second coronavirus victim is also low risk, according to the health department.
"Based on early investigations, this patient is considered low risk as they have minimal contact with public places," read a health department press release.
As of Tuesday, the coronavirus was present in 73 of the 102 counties within Illinois. While Lawrence County reported its first two cases, there were still no cases in nearby Edwards, Clay and Wayne counties. Richland County, which lies just west of Lawrence County, reported its first case on Tuesday morning.
In Crawford County, to the north, there were five reported cases. In Wabash County, to the south, one confirmed case was being reported.
To the east in Indiana, Knox County was reporting eight confirmed cases, while Gibson County had four cases and Sullivan County three. Pike County, which is just east of Knox, was one of only three counties in Indiana that was reporting no confirmed cases.
County health leaders said on Monday that to date, 23 tests had been administered within Lawrence County. That means that within the past week, 13 Lawrence Countians had been tested. Previously, only 10 tests had been given, all on or before March 15.
The health department continues to stress the following ways to help keep the outbreak under control:
Wash your hands frequently.
Continue to social distance.
Wear a mask in public.
Stay home if you are feeling unwell.
Clean surfaces frequently.
Marley asks that citizens who are concerned they might have the virus to contact their primary care provider via telephone.
"We ask community members not to panic, and to not immediately rush to the health department or your primary care provider," she said.
Those who have questions can e-mail the health department at email@example.com. In addition, a 24-hour coronavirus hotline has been established, and can be reached at 812-213-0199.