• BIG CONGRATS to St. Teresa High School English Teacher and department head Arlis DeJaynes, for being chosen (out of 875 teachers in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois) as the winner of the 2021 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki presented DeJaynes with the award during a surprise celebration at St. Teresa High School on April 21.
She makes our whole community stand even taller by her devotion to education and commitment to her students. (A photo and story of the presentation can be found on page 15 of today’s print and online editions.)
• MORE CONGRATS to Macon County’s own Young Leaders In Action (YLIA), a service and leadership group of Macon County high school students, on being named winner of the 2021 Governor’s Cup, presented by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a virtual ceremony held last week. The Governor’s Cup is the top honor given among a field of 24 Illinois community projects that were recognized with 2021 Governor’s Hometown Awards earlier this year.
The awards program gives formal recognition to groups whose projects improved their community’s quality of life. (A group photo and story can be found on page 14 of today’s print and online editions.)
“This award honors our entire community,” says Natalie Beck, CEO of The Community Foundation of Macon County. “YLIA participants continually put forth efforts throughout this past year to make our community, and world, a better place. YLIA leaders inspire others to dream more, learn more and do more.”
The honors keep coming to our community because of the dedication and commitment to others that is so apparent. I also appreciate the great work of Natalie Beck and The Community Foundation of Macon County. All of you, and many more, make me proud to be a citizen of Decatur, Illinois, where, in the midst of a terrible pandemic, the people of Decatur and Macon County continue to excel through their goodness.
• WARNING! The Macon County Health Department issued a news release on Friday to alert residents that our county has moved into and maintained its presence in the warning level status for COVID-19 metrics. A county is put at warning level when two or more risk indicators increase. In Macon County, the number of cases per 100,000 people has been over 50 and emergency department visits for COVID-19 like illness have increased for two consecutive weeks.
“As a region, there has been an increase of COVID-19 patients for eight days,” states the release from the Health Department. “Region 6, which includes Macon County, is similarly experiencing an increase in test positivity rate. The intended use of this data is to encourage individuals, families, community groups, local leaders, and businesses to consider limiting behaviors that increase the chance of spreading COVID-19 (hosting or attending gatherings, participating in certain types of activities, etc.) and strongly implement precautionary measures.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. The healthcare system and community leaders call on all community residents to do their part to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Preventative measures include, but are not limited to: • Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, if able. • Wearing a mask over your mouth and nose when appropriate. • Practicing social distancing. • Avoiding large gatherings. • Participating in contact tracing if contacted by the health department. • Adhering to isolation and quarantine guidance if directed. • Staying home if you are not feeling well.
“All members of the community must do their part in this pandemic to protect the lives of Macon County residents and visitors,” states the Health Department. “The metrics referenced are updated weekly, from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week. A map and information of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/countymetrics.
• SAD to write that Macon County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state with the majority of eligible residents not bothering to get their shots — for whatever reason. There was a time that difficulty in getting an appointment to get vaccinated was the big reason for not getting the shot. Now, you can get vaccinated about anytime, anywhere, including at your favorite pharmacy or supermarket. We have the weapon (the vaccine) to beat COVID and yet so many are still turning their backs on using it — which means the virus is not going away anytime soon. Whose fault is that?