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All ICU beds in B-N are full and the county health director expects COVID hospitalizations will increase

face masks hang from IV pole
Jenny Kane
Bloomington-Normal hospital beds are at 99% capacity and all ICU beds are full.

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) said Thursday all intensive care beds in Bloomington-Normal are full, along with 99% of all hospital beds.

The county has nearly 900 active coronavirus cases. That's the county's highest mark since January. It includes 195 new cases announced Thursday. MCHD said 22 McLean County residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 — up one from Wednesday.

The county indicated 869 people are isolating at home and 50 people have been released from quarantine since Wednesday.

MCHD administrator Jessica McKnight said it's likely hospitalizations will increase soon, since that pattern has followed rising caseloads throughout the pandemic.

“Sadly, that is what we do anticipate when we see the increase in cases and we have seen that,” she said.

Hospital administrators have said they are able to expand bed capacity when necessary, but staffing is the big challenge. They also have indicated a vast majority of their COVID patients are not vaccinated.

Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria reported it currently has three inpatients being treated for COVID-19.

McKnight said she's concerned COVID-19 may be more widespread in the community because not enough people are getting tested. Current caseloads are at a nearly 11-month high, even after testing dropped during the Thanksgiving weekend.

“Coming off of a holiday weekend where testing was more limited, that doesn’t negate the fact that we are still seeing an increase in the number of cases,” McKnight said.

McKnight said anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, shows symptoms or has been in high-risk situations should get tested five to seven days later.

She said it remains to be seen whether the Omicron variant will reach central Illinois and whether it will lead to more severe illnesses than the Delta variant. She said while the health department waits for that data, her office is pushing the usual precautions; vaccinations, masking and testing.

“Omicron, there’s so much about it we don’t yet understand that the best preparation we can do right now is to keep doing what we know is working,” McKnight said.

The county has reported 287 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

McLean County’s seven-day testing positivity rate dropped to 7.3%.

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