Several local entities announced closures Friday morning due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases in the area.
Superintendent Robert Richardson announced that Hoopeston Area School District would move to full remote-learning through Oct. 26 due to several positive COVID-19 cases in the district.
Richardson’s full statement to district parents is listed below:
“Good Morning Hoopeston Area Families, this is Superintendent Robert Richardson. Hoopeston Area CUSD #11 has had several positive COVID19 cases within the last few days. The district is following procedures established through consultation with the Vermilion County Health Department, this has resulted in students and staff being quarantined. Due to the increase in the number of people being quarantined, Hoopeston Area CUSD #11 will close to in-person learning and function fully remote learning beginning Oct. 13 through Oct. 23 with in-person learning resuming on October 26. Teachers will be available through email, phone call or google meets to assist with student questions. If you experience difficulties with your device or technology, contact your child’s school office for assistance. The staff and administrators at Hoopeston CUSD #11 are excited to get back to in-person learning, but understand this is what needs to be done at this time. Thank you for your cooperation, stay strong and we will get through this together.”
Hoopeston City Hall will also close through Oct. 26 due to a city employee testing positive.
Hoopeston Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Hardcastle issued a press release stating that the city administration was notified of a positive COVID-19 test for a city employee on Friday morning.
“As a result of this positive test City Hall will be closed to the public until at least Oct. 26,” Hardcastle said in the press release.
Residents needing city services can still contact City Hall via telephone at 217-283-5833. Water payments can be dropped off in the drop box located in front of City Hall, payment by telephone, by mail, or via the City’s website at www.cityofhoopeston.com.
The front window of the Hoopeston Police Department will also be closed. Residents needing police assistance are asked to call the non-emergency number at 217-283-5196. If you have an emergency dial 9-1-1.
The Hoopeston Public Library announced a change to its status Friday morning.
The library’s director was notified Friday of a positive COVID-19 for a staff member.
As a result of the positive test, the library will be closed for the next three days, beginning Oct. 10.
For the health and safety of both staff and patrons, the library will take this time to thoroughly disinfect the building and allow staff to be tested.
The library expects to return to curbside service only starting Oct. 13. Library hours will also be reduced.
Library staff will be available by phone from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
All library items must be picked up using curbside service during these hours. Materials may also be returned by curbside during the open hours, or via the outside book drop after hours.
No public computer use will be available. Interlibrary loan service will continue and requests may be placed by phone or by using the online patron access catalog. Online story times and other programs will continue via Facebook.
Copying, printing and fax service will still be available via curbside by appointment only by calling 217-283-6711.
All of these move come after Vermilion County has seen a county-wide spike in COVID-19 cases recently.
Vermilion County started the month with 123 active COVID-19 cases and was already up to 221 active as of Oct. 8.
Doug Toole, Vermilion County Health Department Administrator, reported nine COVID-19-positive Vermilion County residents were currently hospitalized during his Thursday COVID-19 update.
He also announced that a sixth Vermilion County COVID-19-positive resident, a man in his 70’s, had died.
As of Thursday’s update, Vermilion County has had a total of 982 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 29,836 total negative tests.
Speaking with The News-Gazette’s Ben Zigterman, Toole reported the county’s seven-day positivity rate has reached 10.6 percent, which is above the state’s warning level.
“We’re definitely concerned,” Toole said. “We’ve got one of the higher positivity rates in our 20-county region.”
If the overall positivity rate of Region 6, of which Vermilion County is a part, rises above 8 percent for three consecutive days, the region could face additional mitigations, such as closing bars and restaurants at 11 p.m., no indoor dining and limiting gatherings to 25 people.
“This is a situation we’re taking very seriously,” Toole said, adding there’s no sign that the spread is slowing down in his county, and there isn’t a single, clear source, either.
“We have not been able to tie it to a particular activity or event or workplace,” Toole said. “It seems to be coming from all sides.”
The state’s mobile labs were sent to Vermilion County for three days last week, testing more than 200 people, but Toole said, “I could certainly use more testing.”
As the county’s total of confirmed cases crept closer to 1,000, Toole encouraged residents to avoid gatherings.
“I’m just hoping that it’s a wake-up call for people as they’re making decisions about gatherings to attend, whether they’re family functions or a small group of friends or a large activity,” he said.
While some people might not be worried about themselves, Toole encouraged them to think about family members.
“If it’s going to move throughout family members, it may hit some of them hard,” he said.
Toole said the county doesn’t have any specific plans at the moment to bring the caseload down.
“We’re continuing our efforts to wear masks, stay at home if you’re sick, wash hands,” he said. “But really, reconsider some of these gatherings.”