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

McLean County Adds 2 COVID-19 Cases As Infection Rate Slows

Vehicles parked at COVD-19 testing facility
COVID-19 testing continues daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Interstate Center in Bloomington.

McLean County health officials announced two new COVID-19 cases on Friday, while the county’s number of active cases remains at its lowest level in about a month.

McLean County COVID-19 data
Credit McLean County Health Department
The McLean County Health Department reports two new COVID-19 cases on Friday.

The McLean County Health Department hasn’t provided any information about the two new cases, but confirmed that a resident of Heritage Health in Normal who recently tested positive for COVID-19 is isolating at the nursing home.

McLean County Health Department administrator Jessica McKnight said the county wants the nursing home to test all residents and staff to make sure the virus hasn't spread.

“There’s a fear always because you have a vulnerable congregation in a congregate setting so there’s a high-risk population there,” McKnight said. “However we are communicating with our facilities and we are taking those measure to prevent that.”

Gov. JB Pritzker last week ordered all long-term care facilities in the state to test all residents and staff, but didn’t outline specifics.

Heritage Health’s Vice President of Community Relations and Marketing Laura Beaver said mass testing is expected to begin at its facility in Normal next week.

The Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Bloomington has had 55 positive tests at its facility, where nine residents and one staff person have died from the coronavirus. 

The county has 225 confirmed cases of the coronavairus. Two more patients have recovered, while three remain hospitalized and 18 are isolating at home.

McKnight said she’s encouraged to see only four new COVID-19 cases in the last three days in the county, but she said the coronavirus is still present in the community.

“We hope that what we are seeing is that people are wearing their face coverings and practicing social distancing as much as possible,” she said. “We hope those measure we are taking now are helping us to control the spread.”

Pritzker on Friday announced 1 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the state. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 8,277 McLean County residents have been tested.


Contact tracing

The McLean County Health Department plans to hire up to 20 contact tracers over the next two months to help contain spread of the coronavirus.

McKnight said they need people who have people skills.

“One key is a charming personality because you are looking for someone with good customer-service skills,” McKnight said. “We are looking for someone who can talk to someone and build that trust with them because you are going to be following up with them for a regular time period.”

McKnight said the department has six on staff who are helping with contract tracing and it will be training three more employees internally as it prepares for a potential surge in cases during the summer.

“We’ve been lucky where we are seeing our active case numbers down a little which gives us the opportunity to train internally,” she said.

The health department plans to have a job posting on its website, but the IDPH also has a contact tracing  interest form on its website.

A $2.8 state grant is paying for the temporary workers.

Health officials have identified contact tracing as one of the key tools to help reopen the county by isolating the virus when its confirmed.

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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