MOUNT CARMEL — COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Mount Carmel and the local area, while schools struggle with the task of a blended reopening this week.

The Wabash County Health Department announced two additional COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 44 confirmed cases of the virus. Of those 44 cases, eight are currently positive and in quarantine.

This week alone the county has recorded nine cases — and that total could continue to rise.

Health Department officials believe the latest surge is related to a mini-prom which was hosted at the Anderson Building in Mount Carmel on Aug. 4. Just because you attended the mini-prom however, doesn’t mean you must enter a self-quarantine.

Quarantine isn’t mandatory unless you’re related to someone COVID-19 positive, or if you were within close quarters contact with an individual who tested positive for more than 15 minutes. If you were in attendance, continue to monitor your symptoms, err to the side of safety, and wear a mask in public.

Illinois as a whole exceeded the 200,000 case mark on Thursday, and has 7,696 recorded COVID-19 deaths to date. Other notable surrounding counties of concern include Wayne County, which has 67 confirmed cases and two deaths to date, White with 75 confirmed cases, and Jasper County with 61 cases and seven deaths (though none recently).

In Indiana, Gibson County saw its case count rise to 243 on Thursday, with the announcement of 10 additional cases. Vanderburgh County, home to Evansville, had 29 additional cases, upping its total to 2,085 confirmed cases to date. 15 of whom have died in Vanderburgh due to the virus.

With schools in both Indiana and Illinois returning to school this week, and in the next few, masks should continue to be worn in public places where social distancing is not possible.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include (but are not limited to) sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing.

If you attended the mini-prom, are related to someone who did, or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact Wabash General Hospital’s COVID-19 hotline at 618-263-6233. A representative can schedule a test, and the hotline is staffed 24/7.

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