Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to Phase 4, SIH; thumbs down to GNC

Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to Phase 4, SIH; thumbs down to GNC


Thumbs up to the state entering Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, the state’s plan for reopening after COVID-19 shutdowns were instituted in March. Under Phase 4, more places can open, including bowling alleys, theaters, museums and more. Restaurants and bars also may serve patrons indoors starting Friday. Illinois’ progress on the coronavirus should be celebrated. And, the participation of all in making sacrifices for the greater good should be commended. Of course, we must remember that Phase 4 doesn’t mean a complete return to normal. We need to continue to do our part to keep the virus under control. With rising cases in other parts of the country, it’s clear how easily this virus can come roaring back if we’re not careful. Let’s continue to wear our masks, wash our hands, keep physical distance from others as much as possible, and most importantly, follow the guidelines. We’re so happy to see our local businesses back open. Let’s respect the hard work they’re doing to keep us safe — extra cleaning, capacity limits, wearing masks and the like — by playing by their rules.

Thumbs down to another store closing in University Mall. GNC announced this week it would close its Carbondale location after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Carbondale store is one of hundreds set for closure around the country. This news, on top of JCPenney’s announcement it would close its University Mall location, and on top of Macy’s departure this spring, is hard to hear. We never like to report a store closure and the hardship — namely, lost jobs — that comes with it. But it’s not all bad news for University Mall. The cinemas there are set to reopen in July under new management — AMC closed its location there a couple of years ago — and many businesses inside the mall have reopened as Illinois looks to rebound from COVID-19 closures. We’ll reiterate what Gloria Jean’s Coffee manager Andrew Erbes said in our story about the mall last week: “I think before the pandemic, a lot of people were shopping online,” he said. “Now, I think we’re going to see a movement to shop local, and to shop brick-and-mortar stores. People are realizing that once they’re gone — they’re gone.”

Thumbs up to the announcement that Southern Illinois University will host several Missouri Valley Conference championships next year, including the MVC baseball tournament, the women's swimming and diving championship, the outdoor track and field championship, and the women's golf championship, which will be held in St. Charles, Missouri. The baseball tournament is returning to SIU for the first time since 1986; the swimming and diving championship is back after it was last hosted here in 2016; and the track and field championships were last held here in 2014. We are excited for the opportunity to show off all SIU and Carbondale have to offer.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois Healthcare, which has dedicated time and effort to making it easier for patients to connect with loved ones during COVID-19 precautions. SIH had limited visitors to its facilities as part of the effort to slow the spread of the virus, and that meant people couldn’t be with their loved ones who were receiving care in its hospitals. Diane Honn is the new family connection coordinator for SIH — a position that was created to help patients stay in touch with their families. iPads are in use for video calls, and SIH has also purchased chargers that patients can use to keep their devices juiced up for communicating. SIH is also piloting a program of virtual rounding, in which doctors and nurses use an iPad to video conference with patients’ family members during rounds, allowing families to remain active in their loved one’s care. SIH also loosened some of its visitor restrictions: Adult inpatients who are not suspected of COVID-19 are allowed one visitor at a time from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; one support person may accompany patients undergoing surgery for the duration of the procedure; and COVID-19 patients may now receive visitors in end-of-life situations. We commend SIH for its creative solutions to COVID-19 problems. We’re also glad the state entering Phase 4 will allow more people to visit in person.