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

County Sees Fewer New Cases Amid Testing Slowdown At ISU

COVID testing on the Quad
Emily Bollinger
Illinois State University was getting back about 600 test results every day heading into the Labor Day weekend. That's fallen to less than 100 over the past three days.

UPDATED 12:45 p.m. | McLean County on Tuesday reported its lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in three weeks, though a slowdown in testing at Illinois State University is likely a big reason why.

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) reported 26 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest single-day tally since Aug. 21.

But that comes after four straight days in which ISU's on-campus testing sites for asymptomatic students were closed for the Labor Day holiday. Students could have traveled five miles west of campus to be tested at the Interstate Center in Bloomington, but that site also was closed on Monday. ISU's testing sites reopened Tuesday.

ISU spokesperson Eric Jome said the testing sites are normally closed on Saturdays and Sundays regardless. He said ISU decided to close them Friday too because they were expecting fewer students due to the holiday weekend. (The Interstate Center actually saw record traffic on Friday, testing 851 people.)

ISU was getting back about 600 test results every day heading into holiday weekend. That's fallen to less than 100 over the past three days.

The community has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases since college students returned to Bloomington-Normal last month.

ISU has seen 1,318 students test positive so far, or about 6.4% of the student body. That's more than many other Midwest public universities. Fourteen faculty and staff have also self-reported positive tests. There are now 66 students isolating in on-campus housing, a decrease from around 91 a week ago due to students who have recovered.

Illinois Wesleyan University has reported 90 student cases to date, or about 4.9% of the student body.

Countywide update

Of the 26 new cases reported Tuesday, six involved children between the ages of 1 and 17, according to MCHD. That makes 13 children testing positive in the last two days.

There are now 1,319 active cases in McLean County—a new record. That includes eight people who are hospitalized (two in intensive care) and 1,311 others isolating at home.

McLean County's testing positivity rate (7-day average) fell for the second straight day, down to 10.6%.

McLean County is part of the Illinois Department of Public Health's Region 2, along with 19 other counties. Region 2's positivity rate also has fallen in recent days. It's now 7.3%.

If it ever gets to 8% and stays there for three straight days, it would automatically trigger state mitigations, as two other regions already have seen.


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