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

ISU Adds 68 New COVID Cases; Positivity Rate Resumes Its Climb

Students walk the Quad
Emily Bollinger
Illinois State University leaders say they’re closely monitoring the situation. Dorms and other campus buildings remain open, though only about 10% of classes are in-person or hybrid.";

Illinois State University reported 68 new cases of COVID-19 among its students Thursday, as the county’s testing positivity rate increased again.

ISU has now seen 1,178 students test positive for COVID-19 – more than 5% of the student body. About 1 in 5 students tested on-campus this week have come back positive.

ISU leaders say they’re closely monitoring the situation. The residence halls and other campus buildings remain open, though only about 10% of classes are in-person or hybrid. More than 80% of ISU’s student cases have been among those living in off-campus housing.

Other campuses are facing their own worsening outbreaks. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign started classes one week after ISU and has a much more rigorous testing program. But it has already seen about 1,000 student cases and is on pace for as many as 8,000 by Thanksgiving. That’s prompted new restrictions on student activity.

Coronavirus - Testing Positivity Rate
McLean County has seen a record 803 new COVID-19 cases in the past week. While the bulk of those involve ISU students, precise demographic information (such as ages) are not available.

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) stopped providing age breakdowns of new cases after Sunday’s data release. So, of the 99 new cases reported countywide on Thursday, their age ranges are not known, though the timing of new ISU cases strongly suggests they are mostly college students.

“The McLean County Health Department is prioritizing contact tracing efforts. With the sheer volume of new cases, active cases, and close contacts coupled with the reporting challenges of our new software we are limited in what we have available to report at the moment,” health department Administrator Jessica McKnight told WGLT.

There are now eight McLean County residents who are hospitalized, one less than a day ago. Three people are in intensive care.

The county’s testing positivity rate (7-day average) rose to 10.5%. That rate has increased in 14 of the last 15 days. Coupled with all the new cases, it's is likely to bump McLean County into the state’s warning-level status sometime soon.

McLean County and 19 other counties make up Region 2, where the testing positivity rate has climbed to 7.1%. If it hits 8% and stays there for three straight days, it would trigger new state mitigations, as two other regions have already faced.


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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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