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

Regional Mitigations Not Imminent, But McLean County Could Slip Into 'Warning' Level

McLean County Health Department sign
The McLean County Health Department says "the next three to four weeks will be a pivotal time in our community’s response to the COVID pandemic."";

Despite an alarming spike in cases, McLean County still has time to avoid backtracking into additional state-required mitigations, as other parts of the state have experienced.

McLean County is part of Region 2, which also includes Peoria, LaSalle, and 17 other counties. The region’s testing positivity rate is 5.9%. A region faces additional mitigations when it records three straight days with a positivity rate of 8% or above, or if there is a sustained increase in positivity rate, and more hospital admissions or declining hospital capacity.

So far, only two regions (Metro East near St. Louis, and Kankakee and Will counties) have backtracked into qualifying for additional mitigations. No other region is in immediate danger of doing so.

Warning level nears

McLean County, however, could enter a "warning" level on its own.

Warnings and regional mitigations are different. Unlike the regional metrics, county-level warnings do not automatically trigger new state mitigations. They’re intended to be used for local level awareness to help local leaders, businesses, health departments, and the public make informed decisions about personal and family gatherings, as well as what activities they choose to do.

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s warning levels are triggered when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators increase in a county. McLean County already has triggered one risk indicator—the number of cases per 100,000 people. The county is getting dangerously close to triggering a second indicator—a testing positivity rate above 8%. McLean County’s positivity rate was 7.3%—and rising—as of Sunday.

“The next three to four weeks will be a pivotal time in our community’s response to the COVID pandemic. The McLean County Health Department continues to work with our universities, community leaders, and local businesses to make informed decisions that promote healthy behaviors while determining what additional mitigation actions and interventions might be necessary,” MCHD Administrator Jessica McKnight said Sunday in a statement.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.