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

At ISU, 273 Students Have Tested Positive For COVID-19

Students talking while wearing masks
Emily Bolllinger
McLean County announced a record 99 new COVID-19 cases on Monday.

Illinois State University already has seen 273 students test positive for COVID-19, a university spokesperson said Monday.

There were just 70 cases as of Friday, meaning the number of COVID-positive students tripled in just three days. ISU said 1,496 tests have been administered on campus since the first day of classes on Aug. 17. That includes symptomatic and asymptomatic students, as well as student-athletes.

Appearing Monday on WGLT's Sound Ideas, ISU President Larry Dietz said several things in addition to the raw case count affect any potential decision whether to close the campus.

"It will have to do with isolation capacity. It will have to do with how many folks are hospitalized, and thankfully at this point I'm not aware of any. It's a moving target we're monitoring, so I don't have any specific date or time," said Dietz.

Dietz said there are 24 students in isolation, and the campus has plenty of space left for isolation cases.

Illinois Wesleyan University reported 11 new cases on Monday, all stemming from the same off-campus social gatherings identified last week in which consistent use of masks and physical distancing did not occur. IWU now has 40 students who have tested positive, including 30 from that off-campus outbreak.

At the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, over 50,000 tests have yielded 311 positive student cases in the first week, Illinois Newsroom reported.

Meanwhile, the McLean County Health Department announced a record 99 new cases on Monday. Of those, 90 of people are between 18 and 29 years old, the health department said. The 99 cases top the previous single-day record of 98 set Sunday.

MCHD Administrator Jessica McKnight said nearly half of the county’s confirmed 1,143 cases involve young adults.

“We continue to see clusters of cases from gatherings, household contacts (including) roommates and off-campus activities,” McKnight said. “If you have been to a party or large gathering, the McLean County Health Department recommends you get tested for COVID five to seven days from the event or possible exposure.”

Coronavirus - Testing Positivity Rate
Testing positivity rate climbs

The county’s seven-day testing positivity rate rose to 7.3%, moving it closer to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s warning level of 8%. The county’s cumulative positivity rate since the start of the pandemic increased to 2.8%, based on more than 40,500 tests.

McKnight added the county’s contact tracing capacity has been hurt by the rapid raise in active cases.

She said anyone who tests positive for COVID should begin isolation immediately and not wait to hear from the department.

“People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others,” McKnight cautioned. “In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific 'sick room' or area, and using a separate bathroom if available."

The county still has four COVID-19 patients in the hospital. The county has 403 people isolating at home, another new record.

The county has reported 16 COVID-related deaths, while 720 patients have been released from isolation and are considered recovered.


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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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