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McLean County reports 4 new COVID-related deaths and returns to high transmission

McLean County Health Department sign
Emily Bollinger
McLean County reported four new COVID-related deaths this week.

McLean County is back at a high level of community transmission of COVID-19, based on weekly data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Fifty-eight Illinois counties have high community spread, while 36 are medium and eight are at low transmission.

McLean County saw a slight increase in COVID-related hospitalizations (11.1 per 100,000 residents) while new cases dropped to 356. The largest share was among people in their 20s.

McLean County Health Department public affairs coordinator Marianne Manko said Bloomington-Normal hospitals reported Friday they have 16 COVID patients in their care.

"Even though we have fewer people on ventilators and fewer people in ICUs and that seems promising, for us, that’s still not good enough,” Manko said. “There’s no reason for a healthy person to be hospitalized with COVID when we are in year three of this pandemic.”

COVID deaths

McLean County also reported four more COVID-related deaths in the last week. They include three women: one in her 50s, one in her 60s and another in her 80s; and a man in his 90s. None were associated with long-term care.

There have been 385 COVID-related deaths reported in McLean County since the start of the pandemic.

The county’s seven-day testing positivity rate dipped to 23.8%.

‘COVID safe’

Manko said it’s time business owners and event organizers consider putting back COVID safeguards that have essentially vanished in recent months, especially as the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant spreads rapidly.

Manko said businesses and indoor events may get more customers if they try to create a COVID-safe space. She said that can be done without a mask requirement.

‘There are a lot of people who go to these events who feel as if they are the only person who is concerned about COVID and they look around and see other people not wearing masks and not social distancing and it’s really uncomfortable for them,” Manko said.

Manko said managers have to set a positive example by encouraging mask use among their employees. She said that will make guests and customers feel like they are not alone.

New vaccine

Manko hopes approval of the new Novavax vaccine will encourage more people to get vaccinated. Novavax works more like a traditional vaccine.

“There are a lot of people who have legitimate reasons to have concern for any kind of vaccination and many of those people are waiting for something that might be a little bit different,” Manko said. “We certainly hope it will move that needle and we expect that it will.”

Novavax has received federal regulatory approval, but it’s not clear when the vaccines will become available.

McLean County has seen a slight uptick in vaccinations over the last week, but still at a much slower pace than last winter. Sixty-three percent of McLean County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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