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

Children, Young Adults Drive New COVID Cases In McLean County

Teenager seated to receive COVID vaccine
Carle Health
Shelby Morris, 17, of Clinton received the Carle Health's 100,000th dose at the Carle BroMenn Outpatient Center in Bloomington.

UPDATED 4:25 P.M. | Children and young adults are driving up coronavirus cases in McLean County.Data from the McLean County Health Department show over half of the 458 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases reported this week involve people under age 30.

Those in their 20s had the most cases (108), while children 17 and under reported 106 cases.

McLean County set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations for the fourth day in a row with 59.

MCHD public affairs coordinator Marianne Manko said the trend is concerning.

“I hate to see it. It’s a terrible thing to see especially at this late date,” Manko said on Friday. “We can’t possibly push enough how important it is to get your vaccine as soon as you can, and also to continue those very important measures that stop the spread of this virus.”

Bloomington-Normal hospitals report 16 COVID patients are under their care, while 88% of their beds are occupied and 77% of intensive care beds are in use. Both are improvements since Thursday.

The county announced 71 new coronavirus cases from a batch of about 1,900 new cases counted overnight. The brings the county's caseload since the start of the pandemic to 17,100. 

According to MCHD, 610 McLean County residents are isolating at home and 18 people have completed their time in quarantine since Thursday.

McLean County’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 216.

The county's seven-day testing positivity rate held at 5.2%. That's higher than state and national averages. 

COVID vaccinations

McLean County added a COVID vaccination clinic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Heartland Community College in Normal.

Manko said there are still plenty of available spots as of Friday afternoon because the department added the clinic late. She said otherwise, vaccine appointments have filled quickly.

“We still have more demand than we ... have supply,” Manko said. “We’ll see. The next week or two will let us know definitely where we stand on that.”

Manko said appointments are going as quickly as they were a few weeks ago. She said the health department's remote vaccination clinics haven't seen demand as high, but she said the county could have promoted them more.

“That’s probably a failure on my part to have promoted those,” she said.

Manko said the health department had just under 1,500 Johnson & Johnson vaccines in storage as it awaited the recommendation that came Friday afternoon from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that the vaccines can be safely administered. She said the county got about 3,000 of the J&J vaccines before they suspended their use amid extremely rare blood clots in women. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports nearly 113,600 COVID-19 vaccines have been put into arms in McLean County. The county trails the state average of fully vaccinated at just over 28%.

Vaccine hesitancy

McLean County is using endorsements to try to encourage more Republican men to get the COVID vaccine.

“I received my COVID-19 vaccine because I want this pandemic to end sooner, not later,” McLean County Board member and former County GOP Chair Chuck Erickson says in radio ads that will air starting next week. “The faster we are all vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal.”

The department also has been running television announcements featuring U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., to encourage vaccinations.

Manko said the county is using media and social media to target several populations where hesitancy runs higher.

“We are trying to reach all audiences. We are trying to hit the African American community. We are trying to hit the Hispanic community. We are trying our best to reach those mostly conservative older males,” she said.

Manko said the health department also is targeting college students in its vaccine marketing.

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