MCESDA Disaster Digest2020-12-04T17:51:55+00:00

MCESDA Disaster Digest

Fast Facts about Johnson and Johnson

Information adapted from

Johnson and Johnson may be the next vaccine to be released to the public.  There are some critical differences between Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and the current offerings of Pfizer and Moderna.  Comparing some of their strengths and weaknesses can help consumers make informed decisions about vaccination.

J&J is “One and Done”

One of the biggest strengths with the Johnson and Johnson shot is that will be easier for mass vaccination, as it only requires one shot.  This is in comparison to Pfizer and Moderna, which both require a series of two shots.  Any vaccination that requires multiple injections has the risk of patients forgetting or not wanting their second dose, resulting in an incomplete series and reduced effectiveness.  The vaccine also does not require ultra-cold storage (like Pfizer), making it very user-friendly for clinicians.

Adenovector Tech

Both Pfizer and Moderna are effective by using mRNA to produce an immune response.  Johnson and Johnson, however uses adenovectors, which are modified adenoviruses that have been rendered harmless (note: normal adenoviruses produce mild colds, much less severe than COVID-19).  This adenovector is modified with the spike protein of SARS CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), thus able to initiate the immune system’s response of replicating antibodies against COVID-19.  This technology is not new, and is actually quite similar to Ebola vaccines also developed by Johnson and Johnson.


Another major difference, one that has sparked a lot of concern, is the reduced effectiveness of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.  Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have 95% and 94.1% effectiveness, respectively, which is a success rate that far surpasses many common vaccines, even the annual flu shot.  Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine, however,  has an overall  66% in preventing COVID-19.  As low as that may be compared to the other two vaccines, this is still a promising number.  The vaccine is up to 85% effective in preventing serious complications due to COVID-19, making it a viable candidate for use.  And just like Pfizer and Moderna, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has gone through rigorous human trials and will continue to do so during and after its release to the public.


As the situation evolves around vaccination, McDonough County ESDA aims to keep you informed around the latest scientific breakthroughs, and what they mean for our community.  Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine may be the next vaccine to reach our locality, and we look forward to its availability to the public.

By |February 11th, 2021|

Cold Weather Hazards

Information adapted from the National Weather Service

Cold weather?  In the Midwest? No way!

Some hazards come as a complete surprise, while other hazards you can anticipate happening every year.  While extreme cold weather can be quite the burden, and even deadly, these events are so regular that they are easy to plan for in advance.  Learning about the hazards associated with cold weather is the first important step in developing a safety plan that you can implement every winter.

Brr… It’s Cold in Here

While snow-related hazards are definitely a concern, long exposure to cold temperatures are a hazard within itself and are a risk with or without accompanying snow.  One of the most major risks is hypothermia.  Hypothermia is a condition when the body’s internal temperature reaches below 96 degrees.  Once the body reaches lower temperatures, one might experience sluggishness, confusion, and eventual loss of consciousness. Certain medications and conditions can make the body more vulnerable to hypothermia, and seniors have the highest risk of death due to the condition.

Hypothermia is more likely to occur during long periods of exposure to cold temperatures.  With enough time, it can even happen in temperatures as high as 60 degrees!  That being said, the best way to prevent hypothermia is limiting exposure to the cold.  Frequent indoor breaks during outdoor activities, such as when shoveling snow, will help warm the body up.  Wearing layers is also important: having multiple layers will allow you to wear exactly as much as you need to stay warm, and take off layers if you start to sweat (the moisture will cool you down and make it worse!).  Hypothermia can be very dangerous, but fortunately also very preventable.

When Pipes become Popsicles

Another possible risk during extreme cold is frozen water pipes. Frozen pipes can lead to massive damage when the frozen water expands, putting pressure on the pipe and rupturing.  According to the University of Illinois, pipes are typically in danger once they reach 20 degrees Fahrenheit, quite a bit past the freezing temperature of 32 degrees.  Wind chill will also increase the likelihood of complications and ruptures.

There are a few preventative measures you can take before and during cold weather to prevent ruptured pipes.  First, minimize any exposure to the cold by insulating pipes and keeping exterior doors (such as garage doors) closed.  In a pinch, duct tape and newspaper can act as insulation until more permanent insulation can be installed.  It’s also important that temperatures are not just warm, but consistent; it may be tempting to lower the thermostat while away or at night, but a consistent temperature above 55 degrees is healthier for your pipes.  Lastly, keeping the faucet slightly running will allow any melting ice to drip out, preventing extra build up that can lead to a burst.

More information and plumbing tips can be found at this handy resource.

Snowy Road Troubles

With any snow there is the risk of slippery roads and accidents.  Nearly 2000 people die every year due to icy road accidents.  Of course the best prevention is to check the weather and look out for emergency alerts (such as the ones sent via McDonough Community Alerts), avoiding being on the road in inclement weather.  That’s not always possible, so if you do need to be out on the road, planning in advance can prevent worsening an accident with a case of hypothermia.  Winter car kits were covered in this previous post, but in short they consist of first aid kits, blankets, water and snacks, and any other resources that would be handy if stranded.  In order to prevent hypothermia, it is very important to not leave a stuck car unless absolutely necessary.  Many preventable deaths due to hypothermia are from trying to walk to get help instead of waiting and calling from a warm location.  Always travel with a full tank and a phone charger in case you need to wait for help for an extended period of time.

As the temperature reaches single digits here in McDonough County, these tips will help prevent burdensome weather from turning into a tragedy.  We can’t stop winter from coming, but we can brace ourselves from the worst of its impact.

-Stay Safe McDonough County!

By |February 8th, 2021|

Earthquakes Preparedness

Some important facts and information about earthquakes from our partners at IEMA:

IEMA Encourages People to Prepare for Earthquakes




Preparedness actions can prevent injuries and reduce property damage!


SPRINGFIELD – In recognition of the earthquake risk posed by the New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic zones, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies are promoting earthquake preparedness throughout the month of February.

“While some hazards such as storms, tornadoes and floods can be forecasted in order to provide advance noticed to residents in an area of danger, other hazards such as earthquakes cannot be predicted,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “Earthquakes can happen anywhere and at any time, including while you are at work, at home or on vacation. Creating an environment of education, awareness and preparedness can save lives.”

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that 500,000 detectable earthquakes occur in the world each year. Illinois has experienced at least 13 earthquakes since September 2017 when the southeastern part of our state was rocked by a 3.8 magnitude tremblor.  

Two hundred years ago, the Central United States was sparsely populated when an 8.0 magnitude earthquake shook the region. A similar earthquake today would have a devastating impact on the millions of people who live in the Midwest. 

The actual movement of the ground during an earthquake is seldom a direct cause of death or injury. Most injuries and casualties result from falling objects and debris.  Learning how to “Drop, Cover and Hold On” can help people prevent injury during an earthquake. The phrase reminds people to drop down to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture, and hold on to that object until the shaking ends.

February also begins the agency’s initiative to register homes, businesses, schools and organizations in the world’s largest earthquake drill.  This year’s earthquake drill will take place on Thursday, October 21 at 10:21 a.m.  It’s never too early to register your participation in this potentially life-saving event.  Register today at   

To reinforce earthquake preparedness, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency has put together a series videos with step by step instructions for Do-It-Yourself mitigation projects to better prepare your household for an earthquake.  Learn more about preparing your home, business and family for an earthquake at

By |February 2nd, 2021|

Natural Hazards Mitigation Planning

Here at McESDA we’ve been doing much more than just COVID-19 response.  Even during a a pandemic we’re planning for all the floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters that can head our way.

One way we do this is through the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, or NHMP.  The NHMP is a thorough process of committee building and needs assessments that culminates with a finished plan that will inform future mitigation projects and actions taken within McDonough County.  This process helps identify what actions the community can take now before a disaster in order to reduce future harm if/when natural disasters can occur.  You can’t prevent a tornado or severe storm, but you can work on making yourself resistant to them!

Mitigation: actions to take to reduce the disaster


The most exciting part about this project is that it requires the input of all aspects of McDonough County, from emergency services, the medical field, and even schools and local businesses.  The more participants involved in the initial committee the better, as these diverse sets of opinions will help fill the missing gaps in our emergency preparedness plans.

If you are interested in participating within the NHMP committee, feel free to reach out to us at or my email at for further information.

Stay safe McDonough County!

-the McESDA team

By |January 21st, 2021|

The Hows and Whys of Vaccination Tiers

Last month in our post about vaccination planning, we briefly covered one aspect of vaccination planning, prioritization tiers.  Since then McDonough County has made so much progress in vaccination rollout that it’s worth another update!

What’s Changed?

IDPH has made several changes to Tier 1 since the initial rollout of the vaccine.  Tier 1 can be defined by two major categories: those who are high risk of serious complications from exposure to COVID-19, and those who serve in roles essential to societal function.  Overall, this definition of Tier 1 has not changed, however the prioritization order within this group had shuffled around quite a bit.

Image Description: Phases 1a, 1b, and 1c.

One of the biggest updates to the Tiers is that individuals over 65 are now in Tier 1b . This is sooner than previously anticipated, as this group was originally allocated to Phase 1c.   This also differs from the original CDC guidelines, which sets the recommended age for this tier at 75 and older instead.  Why would IDPH set the age 10 years younger than CDC guidelines?  In short, equity.  According to Illinois statistics, the average age of white individuals who die due to COVID-19 complications is 81.  Compare that to black and Hispanic Illinoisans, (72, 68, respectively), and one can see a major inequality emerging.  Setting the age of early vaccination to 65 instead of 75 is one way IDPH is helping to address racial disparity in health outcomes.

Essential Workers

Another major addition to Tier 1 is a more thorough breakdown of which essential workers are included in Tier 1b, including moving up some professions that were originally designated for Tier 2, such as transportation and K-12 teachers.  The full list of essential workers, in order that they will be eligible for vaccination, are as follows:

  • First Responders, including Law Enforcement, Firefighters not already covered by Tier 1a, and us here at ESDA!
  • Education, particularly K-12 school faculty and staff
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Manufacturing, including our local manufacturers such as Pella and
  • Corrections
  • United States Postal Service Workers
  • Public Transit Workers, such as Go West
  • Grocery Store Workers, including cashiers, stockers
  • Shelters including homeless shelters, women’s shelters and adult daycare

Once a group is substantially covered, the plan moves forward with the next group.  For example, as of posting this, a substantial amount of Tier 1a is covered, so our partners at McDonough District Hospital and McDonough County Health Department are setting up clinics for our First Responder community.  This methodical process helps create a procedure for getting limited supplies to those who need it the most.  Even when supplies become less limited, the tiers provide a solid strategy for getting the vaccine rolled out throughout the population.

What does it mean for me?

First, it means that regardless of your age or occupation, you have a place in line to get your COVID-19 vaccine.  Implementing this system avoids unfair “first come/first served” practices, and by the final tier everyone in the county will be covered.  A tiered system also helps with the logistical side of vaccination rollout.  For example, McESDA has been assisting with preparation of Tier 1b by gathering a census of essential workers and passing this data to our public health partners, who will in turn, use this data to estimate vaccine distribution and plan for clinics.  This way, waiting for a vaccine is less like waiting in a line, and more like a “fast pass” system, where you know you have a reservation later on in the process.

For further reading, we recommend the following pages:


CDC Phases:

McDonough County Health Department: (for the County’s current Phase)


By |January 15th, 2021|

Mitigation Tiers Explained

Last Wednesday Governor Pritzker announced that many Illinois regions will be able to move out of Tier 3 mitigations soon, as more counties are moving into the criteria of Tier 2.  Before that happens, it is important to familiarize yourself with what these tiers mean, and how they impact your day-to-day life.

By |January 8th, 2021|
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