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COVID IN CUSTODY—A 3-month look at Audrain County’s COVID-19 cases

Posted on Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Three months ago, on Monday, May 25, there were no deaths in Audrain County related to COVID-19, and the number of total positive cases was relatively low compared to counties with larger populations.


There were only 57 total positive cases at the time with 56 active cases and one recovery. That all changed five days later when the Audrain County Health Department reported the county’s first death on June 1. Three months later, there are currently 593 total positive cases, 261 active cases, 328 recoveries and five deaths.


The reason for the May to September spike in cases has been attributed mostly to Vandalia’s nursing home and to the women’s prison. ACHD officials have also speculated that prisoner transport may be one of the reasons for the outbreak at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center and that an asymptomatic employee likely caused the outbreak at the Tri-County Care Center.


When Audrain County’s first death was reported on June 1, the number of positive cases had increased in the county by more than 200 in one week. There were now 258 total positive cases on June 1, up from 57 on May 25, with 235 reported as recovered and 22 still active.


By Monday, Aug. 24, the number of positive cases had remained fairly steady at 243 total cases, 226 recovered and 16 active. 


It wasn’t until Sept. 3, when the second COVID-19 related death in Audrain County was reported that numbers started to rise again. There were 24 long-term care residents who tested positive at TCCC, along with 18 staff members, and there were now 313 total positive cases in the county, 247 recovered and 64 active.


On Sept. 14, there were 363 total positive cases, 299 recovered, 60 active and four deaths. By this time, the county had begun identifying long-term cases separately, reporting that 50 cases in the county were associated with  long-term care facilities, primarily TCCC.


Then, on Wednesday, Sept. 16, a COVID-19 outbreak at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center was discussed on an ACHD conference call and immediately reported on Facebook by the Vandalia Leader. During the conference call, it was confirmed that there had been at least seven positive cases among prisoners the week before. The news then began to spread to other media outlets.


On Monday, Sept. 21, the number of prisoners infected at WERDCC stood at 192 still active and two staff members. The number of TCCC cases that were still considered active remained steady at 24 residents and three employees.


Unfortunately, Audrain County’s fifth death associated with COVID-19 was reported on Tuesday, Sept. 22 by ACHD. But the number of active cases among residents had fallen to 13 at TCCC, and the number of active staff cases had increased by one person. Meanwhile, the number of cases at WERDCC had increased to 207 prisoners with one active staff member.