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Tri-County Reports Record Single-Day COVID-19 Increases

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, right, speaks at the Peoria City/County Health Department on July 30, 2020.
Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, right, speaks at the Peoria City/County Health Department on July 30, 2020.

Each of the Tri-County health departments reported record single-day increases in new COVID-19 cases Wednesday.

Peoria County reported 80 new cases, Tazewell County reported 32, and Woodford County reported 15, for a total of 127. There are 1,991 total reported COVID-19 cases in the three counties since the pandemic began in March. Forty-three residents have died.

Of those 1,991 people, 64% are considered recovered. Another 32% are isolating at home. 11 people are in a local ICU, and an additional 38 with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases are in a non-ICU bed.

Region 2, which includes the Tri-County area, reported a 5.3% positivity rate as of Sunday. Two weeks ago, 10 of the 11 state medical regions were below the 5% mark, but now, only four are, Gov. JB Pritzker said during a press briefing Wednesday in Chicago.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), said while numbers aren't as high as they were in April and May, they are steadily ticking upwards.

She called on residents to exercise more personal responsibility, calling out by name the more than 500 revelers who gathered along the Illinois River shoreline in East Peoria over the weekend.

"Events like the White Trash Bash where hundreds of people gathered are ways the virus can spread if we're not masking and distancing. It can be the cause for (an) increase of cases," she said. "And someone who's at the event can spread it to someone else, who can spread it to someone else, and so on."

She said other large gatherings like sporting events and family reunions also can lead to similar spreads. She encouraged Illinoisans to stick to state guidelines and limit gatherings to 50 people or less.

The state reported 1,759 new cases and 30 additional deaths Wednesday.

"IDPH and I continue to call on local officials to pay close attention to the data for their communities, and where necessary, step up and impose greater mitigations on a targeted basis to bring down the number of infections and the positivity rate," Pritzker said. "Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before the state of Illinois will be forced to step in on a regional basis and impose resurgence mitigations like closing bars, indoor dining and more to reduce the spread of the virus."

Three consecutive days of an 8% or more positivity rate, or seven out of 10 consecutive days increasing positivity, plus seven days of sustained hospitalizations can force more restrictions on a region.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis has said renewed restrictions would likely spell doom for many small businesses already hurting due to the pandemic.

Pritzker came to town last week to warn the Peoria region was on the wrong path, but on Wednesday he commended the health department for its public outreach efforts. Peoria County fell off a "coronavirus warning level" list last week when its hospitalizations of patients with COVID-like symptoms stabilized.

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Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.