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

Review Finds 30 More COVID-Related Deaths In McLean County

McLean County Health Department sign
Emily Bollinger
The McLean County Health Department announced 51 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.

UPDATED 4:20 p.m. | The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) announced Friday it has determined an additional 30 deaths are linked to COVID-19, with many them happening in December when deaths tied to the pandemic peaked.The newly-reported COVID deaths bring the county’s death toll from the pandemic to 207.

McLean County COVID-19 data
Credit McLean County Health Department
The McLean County Health Department reported 51 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

The health department said it reviewed data reports from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The state reports COVID deaths by county for confirmed cases by the PCR coronavirus test. Probable deaths, based on the rapid antigen tests, are reported only as part of the statewide total.

MCHD public affairs coordinator Marianne Manko said the county asked for a the IDPH audit after staff noticed discrepancies between county and state data following a surge in deaths.

“The biggest issue was we really got slammed in January and February with our vaccine clinics and the people who often spend a lot of time looking over these numbers on the internet, just didn’t have as much time to do it,” Manko said.

The IDPH website lists 166 COVID deaths in McLean County. The state also lists 2,269 “probable deaths” statewide in addition to the 21,203 confirmed COVID deaths reported since the start of the pandemic.

According to McLean County’s new data COVID deaths, 19 of the 30 were associated with long-term care facilities. One third of the deaths involved people in their 80s and all but three of them were over age 60.

  • Deaths ages 50-59: 1
  • Deaths ages 60-69: 2
  • Deaths ages 70-79: 7
  • Deaths ages 80-89: 10
  • Deaths ages 90-99: 9
  • Deaths ages 100+: 1

McLean County now indicates it had 75 COVID-related deaths in December. It previously reported 51; that number had tied January for the most deaths since the pandemic began.
According to MCHD, the state considers a confirmed or probable COVID-related death when the death happens within 30 days of symptoms, hospitalization or a positive COVID test, unless there was another cause to fully explain the death, such as an accident or homicide.

The patient also may have a clinical history consistent with COVD-19 and never recovered after a COVID-19 diagnosis. They must have an autopsy finding consistent with COVID-19, or COVID-19 must be mentioned on the death certificate as a cause, underlying cause of significant condition contributing to their death.

New COVID cases

MCHD announced 51 new coronavirus cases Friday.

COVID hospitalizations are unchanged from Thursday at 27, while the county’s seven-day testing positivity rate rose to 4.9%. It hasn’t been above 5% since January.

Manko noted the positivity rate has doubled in less than two weeks.

“We are very concerned that people are relaxed about masking, about social distancing, that they are taking risks that they weren’t taking a couple of months ago,” she said, adding she's noticed more people gathering outside since the weather has gotten warmer and fewer people wearing masks. But she didn’t have specific data from contact tracing on where cases may be originating.

MCHD said 88% of Bloomington-Normal hospital beds are in use and 69% intensive care beds are occupied. Both numbers are up from Thursday.

The county said 325 people are isolating at home and four people have recovered from COVID-19 since Thursday. The county reported 14,709 people have been released from isolation since the start of the pandemic.

Coronavirus - Testing Positivity Rate

COVID vaccines

According to IDPH, McLean County reported 2,244 COVID vaccines were put into arms on Thursday, a new one-day high. A total of 66,229 COVID vaccines doses have been administered in McLean County.

More than 22,100 McLean County residents have received both COVID vaccine doses. The county’s rate of fully vaccinated (12.8%) trails the state average of 15.4%.

The Pritzker administration is letting counties expand COVID vaccine eligibility sooner if demand slows.

Manko said vaccine demand is still strong in McLean County.

“We have had no unfilled appointments. We are filling ours up usually within a day or two. Sometimes, people cancel appointments and appointments come open, but they quickly fill up,” Manko said.

All Illinoisans 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID vaccine starting April 12.

McLean County plans to put about 2,800 first doses into people's arms next week, said, adding MCHD plans to bring its COVID vaccines to rural areas of the county, possibly as soon as next week.

Manko noted the department has taken its mobile clinics to various locations with the help of the Illinos National Guard, including schools and the county jail. She said the county also want to schedule more clinics for the general public who can't easily make it to Bloomington-Normal.

“We do anticipate having more mobile units that will reach out to the further corners of the county so that it’s more accessible to the general public,” Manko said.

Warning lifted

Meanwhile, IDPH removed McLean County from its list of counties under a warning designation. The county was placed under a warning due to a rise in new coronavirus cases and COVID cases that required emergency room care. According to data from March 14-20, the county’s 2.1% rise in ER hospitalizations is considered stable, but its rate of 128 new cases per 100,000 residents is still flagged as a warning area.

Peoria County was added to the list due to a rising caseload and more ER stays.

The warning designation doesn’t trigger new restrictions. It is intended to give local health departments additional guidance to consider targeted mitigations.

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