Western Illinois University confirms first COVID-19 case

Bradley Piros, Sports Editor

MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois University Interim President Martin Abraham sent out a ‘Notice to Campus Community’ email Thursday afternoon confirming that a student residing off campus has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first confirmed case associated with the university.

Abraham stated that the student is currently in self isolation and that they will not be able to return to normal activities or to the WIU campus until authorized by public health authorities. University officials are working with the health department to figure out if the student has been in contact with anybody to try and trace the virus.

Although it is the first case regarding Western Illinois University, McDonough County now has a total of 18 positive cases. Neighboring counties are also varying in numbers. Warren has 62, Schuyler has two, Fulton has three, Hancock has six, Knox has 46 and Adams has 40. The state as a whole has had 52,918 total confirmed positive cases and 2,355 deaths. All numbers are as reported by the Illinois Department of Health and Services as of April 30th at 7 p.m.

As for the university’s first case, Abraham said that he “wanted to keep our University community apprised.” He also stated that he anticipates additional cases could affect the university. If any more cases arise related to Western, they will be posted on wiu.edu/coronavirus. County officials will directly contact anyone who may have been exposed.

Abraham continued by reminding the community of important information regarding COVID-19 saying that the following recommended practices must be followed.

  • Follow government mandates around travel, work, and leaving your home. If you do leave your home, you must wear a mask/face covering when in public spaces when social distancing is not an option, as required per Gov. Pritzker’s May 1 Stay at Home Order.
  • Engage in social distancing (minimum 6 feet). Remain home as much as possible.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Watch for cough, troubled breathing, or other signs of respiratory infection.
  • Monitor temperature for a fever above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C).

If a person in the McDonough County region is experiencing symptoms, they should call the McDonough District Hospital (MDH) nurse triage hotline at (309) 836-1715 or their primary care provider. The nurse triage hotline will operate from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m. The drive-thru screening station at MDH is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. WIU students who are living on campus or in the community can call Beu Health Center, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at (309) 298-1888. Individuals should not walk into Beu or any local health care provider or hospital without first calling.

Abraham finished the email addressing the student and gave some comforting words.

“Our thoughts are with our student, as well as others who are going through this illness or who have loved ones and friends affected,” Abraham said over email.

“Please continue to practice the measures in place to protect yourselves and others. We will be monitoring daily updated guidance and information. This is not a time to panic. It is; however, a time to be attentive, flexible, serious, and engaged regarding the steps we need to take as a community to care for ourselves and for one another.”