Melega at County Board

Steve Melega, Shelby County Health Department Administrator, informed the Shelby County Board Wednesday about the coronavirus coming to Shelby County.

Local officials are preparing for coronavirus as precautions kick into high gear across the state nation and world.

“It’s not a matter of if it’s coming, but when,” said Steve Melega, health administrator at the Shelby County Health Department. “We have just started testing for it.”

According to Melega, 80% of the people that contract COVID-19 will recover without medical intervention, 10% will need medical intervention, and 10% will need ICU intervention.

“It’s all about lowering the risk of exposure,” Melega said.

Protocols went into place Wednesday in the Shelbyville Community Unit School District and information was sent to parents on how to help control the spread of the illness.

On Wednesday, the Shelbyville Walmart ran out of hand-sanitizer and toilet paper. Melega said that people are instructed to start stocking up for 14 days at home, so medications are being refilled and some items are disappearing from shelves.

A Health Department press release suggests making sure you have reasonable amounts of groceries/non-perishable foods and other basic household necessities for your entire family to be able to stay home for at least 14 days.

Stock-up on “sickbed” foods like chicken noodle soup, crackers, hydrating drinks, etc. Stock up on products now to avoid potential shortages in the event an outbreak does occur.

Have enough daily prescription medication for a minimum of 14 days. For example, blood pressure pills. Pre-buy fever reducer medicines, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Stock-up on “sickbed” foods, like chicken noodle soup, crackers, hydrating drinks, etc.

“Our world will be a different place 30 days from now,” Melega told the county board. “Next month, meeting here (Lion’s Club Building), with the windows open would be better than the courtroom, because that’s an enclosed place.”

Thursday morning, the Illinois Elementary School Association canceled the state wrestling tournament set for this weekend in Dekalb. The NIU venue canceled on them to limit exposure. Three Shelbyville wrestlers were scheduled to wrestle at State.

The Illinois High School Association has limited the number of fans that can attend the 1A and 2A state tournament to 60 people. Central A&M boys basketball lost Tuesday’s super-sectional or they would have been limited to 60 fans at State.

The NBA (National Basketball Association) has canceled its season, no more watching the Chicago Bulls or Indiana Pacers on TV. The NCAA “March Madness” Tournament has locked-out fans from the games – only essential staff and immediate family members can attend. The Big Ten has cancled the remaining game in its tournament.

Melega put in an appearance Wednesday at the Shelby County Board Meeting and informed the board members and all those in attendance of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, to date.

A press release was published in the Daily Union on March 6, giving protocols to follow to be prepared for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Community organizations and churches should view information on prevention at the Shelby County Health Department website and then click on the CDC Homepage for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Click on “Checklist for Community and Faith Leaders.” It will give guidelines to limit exposure.

Melega said that he has a meeting set on Friday that includes Shelby County EMA (Emergency Management Administration), that will arrange for temporary housing for people who live in duplexes that cannot stay home because they have forced ventilation involving other people.

Melega said that the biggest thing to do is to take everyone’s temperature every morning, before taking any fever reducer, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, even if they don’t feel sick. Fever reducers could mask being contagious. If anyone has a temperature over 100 degrees, they should stay home.

Everyone should wash their hands with soap and water before leaving home and and when they come home. Carrying hand-sanitizer on your person and in your vehicle can help when soap and water is not handy. Touching your face should be followed by washing your hands or sanitizing.

Melega also said that social distancing is a big factor. That’s why big events are canceling or limiting attendees. One suggestion is to be at least three feet from a non-contagious person or six feet from a contagious person.

If someone suspects they have the flu, they should call their physician and follow instructions. The doctor may have the person come in to be tested for seasonal flu (A or B). That test result can be immediate and if influenze A and B are negative, a respiratory swab may be ordered as a confirmation.

The swab results may take 24 hours or more and the patient will be instructed to go home and stay home until the test is back. If the test is negative for influenza A and B, the physician may order a coronavirus kit, so the patient can be tested.

The COVID-19 test will most likely be done at an isolation room at the local hospital. A positive test will either require the patient to stay home for 14 days, or receive medical intervention for the symptoms, or even be hospitalized depending on the severity of the symptoms.

People who test positive and stay home because their symptoms are not serious, will need to treat COVID-19 like they do the flu. They will need to rest and have fluids that replace electrolytes to avoid dehydration.

COVID-19 has the same symptoms as seasonal flu: fever and diarrhea, but also shortness of breath.

Melega said that a vaccine for COVID-19 will not be expected for the general public for another year. They have to develop the vaccine and then mass produce it for a huge population.

John Curtis can be reached at

John Curtis can be reached at