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

McLean County Detects 1st UK Variant COVID Case

Vaccination sign outside clinic
Emily Bollinger
Grossinger Motors Arena is hosting vaccination clinics for Phase 1A and 1B priority groups.

UPDATED 3:40 P.M. | McLean County has its first COVID-19 case tied to the more contagious UK variant of the coronavirus.County health department administrator Jessica McKnight said during a Friday news conference she doesn't have specifics about the case, adding it's a concern as COVID cases tick up again.

McLean County COVID-19 data
Credit McLean County Health Department
The McLean County Health Department announced 33 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

“We could see another surge in cases if we are lax in our efforts to prevent transmission,” McKnight said. “The more the virus is allowed to spread, the higher the risk that we see even more dangerous variants evolving.”

Last month, health officials confirmed the South African variant in a Rock Island resident who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) announced 33 new coronavirus cases on Friday. That brings the county’s total of confirmed and probable cases since the start of the pandemic to 14,626.

The county has had 252 new cases reported over the last week--the county’s highest weekly count since January.

According to MCHD, 164 coronavirus patients are isolating at home and an additional 40 people have completed their time in quarantine over the last 24 hours and are considered recovered.

There are 22 McLean County residents hospitalized with COVID-19, while 94% of Bloomington-Normal hospital beds and 73% of ICU beds are occupied.

The county reports 173 COVID-related deaths.

McLean County’s seven-day testing positivity rate dipped to 2.3%, while the cumulative positivity rate remains at 5.9%, based on more than 249,500 tests conducted since the start of the pandemic.

Vaccine update

McKnight said McLean County expects to get about 2,900 first-dose COVD vaccines next week. She said that’s an increase from recent weeks and if the trend continues, the county may soon be able to start vaccinating people with underlying medical conditions.

“I’m hopeful that we will be able to move to that 1B-Plus expanded eligibility sooner than we had initially anticipated,” McKnight said.

She said about half of the county's eligible population has received at least one dose, adding she'd like that to be close to 75% before expanding eligibility.

Illinois is expected to receive more than 100,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, but McKnight said she's not heard when the county will get its first shipment of the single-dose vaccine.

“I think it will still be several weeks before we see it in the counties, although it would be great to be proven wrong and we receive it earlier because that would just allow us to give more vaccine to our community,” McKnight said.

Most of the first Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments are targeted for mass vaccination sites throughout the state

As of Friday, nearly 40,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in McLean County, while nearly 14,000 people in the Phase 1A and 1B populations have received both doses.

That’s according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The figures show McLean County’s rate of fully vaccinated (8.1%) slightly exceeds the state average (8%).

MCHD has announced five vaccination clinics for first and second doses over the next two weeks.

  • Tuesday, March 9 at Grossinger Motors Arena in downtown Bloomington; first doses only
  • Wednesday, March 10 at the Activity and Recreation Center (ARC) in Normal, second doses only
  • Thursday, March 11 at Grossinger; first and second doses
  • Friday, March 12 at ARC; second doses only
  • Tuesday, March 16 at Grossinger; first doses only

COVID scams

MCHD also said the department's COVID call center received two calls from the public this week reporting scam calls or texts.

“It appears scammers are using our call center phone number,” health department spokesperson Marianne Manko said in a news release.

Manko said contact tracers and call center staff will never ask for personal information, payment information or text you and ask you to click on a link.

The call center is staffed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m weekdays. The phone number is (309) 888-5600.

Coronavirus In McLean County
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