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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Bloomington-Normal Nursing Home Gets First COVID-19 Case

McLean County Health Department entrance
Eric Stock
The McLean County Health Department announced two new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

UPDATED 3:55 p.m. | McLean County health officials announced two new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and have confirmed a nursing home in Normal has its first known case of the coronavirus.

Heritage Health in Normal has become at least the third long-term care facility in the county to have a positive case.

"Our leadership team at Heritage Health-Normal continues to work with the McLean County Health Department to ensure we are following their guidelines and protocol with a positive COVID-19 test in the building," Ben Hart, president and CEO of Heritage Operations Group, said in a statement. "While the caregiving staff continues to adhere to the infection prevention measures we have in place, they continue to provide uninterrupted services to all of our residents and stability to their daily routine especially during this coronavirus pandemic."

The health department hasn't said if it was a resident or employee who became infected.

The largest coronavirus outbreak in the county, at the Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, has sickened 55 residents and staff, and led to 10 deaths. 

The two new cases on Wednesday are a man in his 20s and a man in his 40s.

The county has 223 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the health department. Most patients have already recovered. Three remain hospitalized. 

According to the McLean County Emergency Management Agency, 72 people were tested at the community-based COVID-19 testing site at the Interstate Center in Bloomington on Tuesday, the first day Connect Transit ran shuttles to the site. Connect Transit plans to offer the free shuttles from the Bloomington Walmart from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The site has been averaging 69 tests per day since Pekin-based Reditus took over the site on May 23.

Contact tracing

McLean County Health Department Administrator Jessica McKnight said contact tracing must have a public buy-in to be effective. Some health officials say they have encountered pushback from some COVID-19 patients as they try to find out where they've been and who they've been around.

They may feel it's too personal or they just don't want to be bothered.

“We have not had an issue so far, but we are asking for the public to continue to coordinate with us because it will help all of us in the long run if we are able to identify anyone who is at risk,” said McKnight, who is trying to allay fears about giving out personal information to a contact tracer.

“Knowing that we keep it confidential and when we call someone and say that they have potentially been exposed, we don’t tell them who has told us,” she said.

Health experts say expanded contact tracing is a key to further reopening the economy to better identify and isolate those who are at risk of catching the coronavirus.

The McLean County Health Department recently received a $2.8 million state grant to hire more contact tracers.

McKnight said contact tracing could become more challenging in the coming weeks as more people are out at large gatherings, including the racial justice rallies and recently reopened businesses.



Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect corrected data provided by the McLean County Health Department. 

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

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