Four of the five new cases of COVID-19 reported in Piatt County this week have been tentatively tied a birthday party. DeWitt/Piatt County Bi-County Health Adminisrator David Remmert said the cases were tied to a resident who had left an assisted living facility in Savoy for a birthday party held at a home in Piatt County.

Piatt County registered no new cases between May 26 and this past Wednesday (June 17), when four were reported. A fifth – a 58-year-old male – was announced on Thursday. Health department officials have counted 15 cases in the county since April 2.

Even with an uptick in cases, Remmert said cases in Piatt County have typically been mild, with no hospitalizations or deaths.

He said the seriousness of local cases is what he reviews more closely. With that measuring stick, he says Piatt County, and neighboring DeWitt County with only four cases, are doing well.

“I sort of wish there was less interest in the cases because we never count cases of the flu,” said Remmert. “This is something we are going to be living with for years. I don’t think we should be scrutinizing cases. We don’t count and report on every case of the flu in the community. It’s the novelty of the disease that panics people.”

But he still advocates for what he feels are common sense precautions: Social distancing, following state guidelines when it comes to running a business or restaurant, and facial coverings when social distancing cannot be afforded.

“Masking is an obvious thing,” he said. “If you cough into a mask you aren’t spreading those aerosol-ed germs around.”

He does feel the DeWitt/Piatt County area are ready to move into the less-restrictive Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan.

“I think it’s a good thing. I don’t necessarily believe sheltering people who are healthy people. I think healthy people should be out and about. But I do worry about high-risk people,” he states.

Which is why nursing homes should stay closed to visitors at this point, he added.

“I would really hesitate to open nursing homes,” he said.

Long term care facilities are not under the same guidelines as Governor JB Pritzker’s reopening plan.

“Those phases do not apply to us,” said Piatt County Nursing Home Committee Administrator Scott Porter at a county committee meeting Thursday. He said the nursing home is essentially in Phase One, which means it is basically closed to visitors. Plastic shields were fabricated recently by volunteers to allow loved ones to visit residents outside with a see-through barrier between them.