Are McDonough Co. health officials prepared in COVID-19 crisis?

MCDONOUGH CO., Ill. (NEWS3) — As the response to combat COVID-19 increases, local health officials told NEWS3 they are working with other county agencies to ensure they are prepared if the virus spreads into the area.

McDonough County Health Department staff said anyone looking to be tested should not go to the health department’s office because they do not carry test kits. Instead, officials said call your doctor to discuss the symptoms and be evaluated for possible testing at an approved location if you meet the testing criteria.

NEWS3 asked local health department officials where testing for COVID-19 takes place in the county and they said patients will be given instructors if they meet criteria. NEWS3 also asked if tests are given at McDonough District Hospital, officials said “MDH has performed tests when certain criteria have been met.”

As far as learning more information about the tests conducted at MDH, the health department would not say how many or the results of the tests. “The Illinois Department of Public Health is tracking tests conducted in the state and the locations of the positive results,” the department told NEWS3 in an email. “That information isn’t being compiled in a county-specific format as those numbers change and cannot be accurately reported in a timely manner.”

Although COVID-19 tests have taken place at McDonough District Hospital, the health department would not tell NEWS3 how well-equipped and prepared the hospital is to handle patients who may contract the virus. “MDH and MCHD are working closely together with the other county partners to ensure our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is comprehensive and cohesive,” health officials said to NEWS3.  “We are all receiving and following the guidance and protocols from IDPH and the CDC.  Our coordinated response will continue for the duration of this situation.”

NEWS3 asked the health department if the hospital has enough supplies, masks, beds and ventilators for COVID-19 procedures and they would not specifically say if the hospital has a sufficient amount of medical supplies. “We are in close coordination with all applicable agencies to ensure that we are monitoring inventory levels of needed equipment and PPE and requesting more as needed,” staff said.

Even though there are no currently confirmed coronavirus cases in McDonough County, health officials said, “As the number of cases rises, continued compliance with the stay at home order, social distancing requirements, and cessation of non-essential business operations is increasingly important to slow the spread of COVID-19 to provide for the most efficient and effective use of resources within the healthcare system.”

NEWS3 reached out to McDonough District Hospital Monday for responses to the same questions asked to the health department, but they have not responded yet. However, NEWS3 learned Tuesday night, MDH announced a coronavirus nurse triage hotline and drive-thru screening station launched Wednesday.

Click here to access the McDonough County Health Department’s website and for information on tips to protect against COVID-19 and other viruses.