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

COVID Vaccinations Increase; Pandemic At ‘Fragile Point’

Kwame Raoul shows COVID vaccination
Illinois Attorney General's office
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul received his first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Friday at Advocate Health Care’s Vaccine Clinic at Imani Village.";

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday the state will expand vaccine eligibility to include more essential workers.Starting Monday, higher education staff, government workers and the media will be included in the Phase 1B+ population. Illinois State University has announced a vaccination clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 25 at Bone Student Center. University officials estimate 300 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available.

On March 29, restaurant staff, construction workers and religious leaders will be eligible for vaccination.

On Thursday, the governor announced everyone 16 and older outside of Chicago will be eligible to get the COVID vaccine, starting April 12.

It's gotten easier to get a COVID vaccine appointment in McLean County as vaccine supplies have increased in recent weeks.

McLean County Health Department (MCHD) Administrator Jessica McKnight said it could become more difficult after April 12 when all adults are eligible to get the shot.

“We ask for continued patience because it may take a moment for you to have the vaccine available for you,” McKnight said.

Jessica McKnight
Credit McLean County
Jessica McKnight

McKnight said vaccinations have picked up among the groups currently eligible.

First-dose vaccination clinics at Grossinger Motors Arena in downtown Bloomington still have openings on March 26-27.

MCHD spokesperson Marianna Manko said the health department opened 2,500 first-dose vaccine appointments this week based on projected shipments.

“We have the infrastructure here in place. We’re ready for more vaccine,” McKnight said. “We’re hopeful that we will continue to see increases in our weekly allocation because we are ready to ramp up our operations.”

Nearly 56,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in McLean County and 19,867 people have received both doses. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), 11.5% of the county’s population is fully vaccinated, compared with the state average of 13.3%.

“What I anticipate will happen is that we will see our fully-vaccinated percentage of our population increase very quickly in the next month when we start doing more second-dose vaccines in April,” McKnight said.

COVID ‘tipping point’

McKnight said Friday COVID numbers are trending well, but a fourth wave and more contagious COVID-19 variants in Europe and Brazil are cause for concern.

“The progress that we have made in McLean County, in Illinois and across the United States is at a fragile point, you could call it a tipping point,” McKnight said. “While we want to celebrate how far we have come, we also must remain vigilant to prevent losing any ground.”

McLean County reported two more COVID-19 deaths Fridayto bring its death toll to 177.

Friday marked one year since the first coronavirus case was reported in McLean County.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.