Thumbs down to the worsening spread of COVID-19 in Southern Illinois, the state, and the country. Southern Illinois' Region 5 this week was placed under Tier 2 virus mitigations, limiting gatherings to no more than 10 and shrinking the party size for outdoor service at area restaurants. Southern Illinois entered Tier 1 mitigations on Oct. 22, closing bars and restaurants to indoor service, among other things. But, the region's testing positivity rate continued to climb, prompting the state to take further action here. Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday recommended residents stay home except for essential trips for the next three weeks. Southern Illinois Healthcare had a record number of COVID-19 hospital admissions this week, and is again suspending some elective surgeries as hospital officials said the number of staff members out sick is posing challenges. Pandemic fatigue is real. But, the virus is real, too. A 41-year-old Germantown woman shared her story with the newspaper this week of her painful monthslong battle with the disease. Southern Illinoisans continue to die. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. We are in for a difficult winter, but we must rise to the challenge and do what's best for our community. That means listening to public health officials.
Thumbs up to Carmine Liscio of Creal Springs, who received some long overdue recognition for his service in the military. U.S. Rep. Mike Bost on Veterans Day presented Liscio's family members with Liscio's World War II Victorious Medal, National Defense Medal and a Purple Heart with two stars. Liscio couldn't accept the medals himself, as he is in a nursing home in Cobden being treated for dementia. Bost told the newspaper on Wednesday his office receives calls to help veterans get the medals they earned. Many veterans were more concerned with coming home than getting their medals, but families often want their loved ones who've served to be recognized. “This is more than somebody who served. This is somebody who served in a great capacity,” Bost said of Liscio. “We the American people thank him and thank them (his family), especially on Veteran’s Day.”
Thumbs up to the work of the Mound City National Preservation Commission, Honor Wreaths for Veterans and Wreaths Across America, which are working to place wreaths on the graves of veterans in Southern Illinois cemeteries this holiday season. Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, the national organization Wreaths Across America carries out its mission to "remember, honor and teach" by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at more than 2,100 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad, Marilyn Halstead wrote in The Southern this week. Wreaths will still be laid this year over a period of three days, but ceremonies are canceled due to the pandemic. The groups are continuing to fundraise for the effort in a year that's been particularly difficult for philanthropy. As tough as it's been, Jim Koonce, founder and president of Honor Wreaths for Veterans, said, "We're going to have a successful year." Kudos to the volunteers and those who donate to help honor veterans who have died.
Thumbs up to the "Revitalize 62966" group, which unveiled its mural in Murphysboro last weekend. The group is a diverse mix of residents and business owners who are working together to make improvements in Murphysboro. The group is looking to improve aesthetics downtown, along with walkability, parking, sidewalks and street lighting, with help from a grant from the Southern Illinois Metropolitan Planning Organization. Its housing team is working with the Historic Preservation Commission to renovate buildings in the historic district and create a residential TIF district. We're excited to see what this group will do to make their town more appealing to future residents and businesses.
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