B-N Hospital Occupancy Tops 90%, As 48th Death Is Reported | WGLT

B-N Hospital Occupancy Tops 90%, As 48th Death Is Reported

Nov 20, 2020

Less than 10% of hospital beds and ICU beds are available in Bloomington-Normal amid a second wave of COVID-19 patients and with a risky holiday week approaching, health officials said Friday.

Bloomington-Normal hospitals are reporting 94% of their ICU beds are in use, and 91% of total beds are in use, the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) said Friday. That’s the highest occupancy the hospitals have reported since the health department began sharing those numbers last week.

There are more than 50 people hospitalized in local hospitals for COVID-19, including 15 McLean County residents; the hospitals are caring for people who live outside the county, too.

And public health officials have cautioned that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, meaning the number of people needing care could increase in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, MCHD reported the 48th COVID-related death: a man in his 80s who was not associated with a long-term care facility.

The county’s testing positivity rate (7-day average) fell for the second-straight day, down to 10%. That is the same as the national average and below the statewide rate (12%). Region 2 (which includes McLean County) also also seen its positivity rate fall for the past three days, after rising for three weeks straight.

MCHD administrator Jessica McKnight said Friday the county continues to look at alternate care sites for hospital overflow, though she did not identity any possible locations. She indicated Carle BroMenn and OSF HealthCare St. Joseph medical centers are leading that effort.

“Bed usage is just one thing that would be part of that. The health department is involved in looking at the space,” McKnight said. “We would set it up as soon as possible but at this time, we have not had any requests from our hospitals to do such.”

McKnight added the county can help with PPE and other supplies through the McLean County Emergency Management Agency, but she said staffing will be the biggest challenge.

“We always assume that hospitals will be there to care for us and our health care providers will be there to care for us whenever we need it, but resources are people,” she said. “That may be something that we are not able to come up with.”

OSF St. Joseph President Lynn Fulton has said hospital staffing has been an ongoing challenge during the pandemic, but that it was manageable at this point.

Contact Tracing

McKnight said the county's contact tracers have struggled to keep up as coronavirus cases surge.

“If you get a call that you have tested positive or you get tour lab results that you have tested positive, please do not wait to hear from your local health department to begin your isolation,” McKnight said.

McKnight said you need to isolate 10 days following the positive test or from the time when you start showing COVID-19 symptoms.

McKnight recommend those who contract the coronavirus to tell their close contacts so they can isolate immediately. She said the county's contact tracing staff may not be able to reach them in time.

She said anyone who shows COVID symptoms should quarantine rather than wait for test results. Those results could be delayed as the COVID testing site at the Interstate Center in Bloomington has experienced increased traffic in recent weeks.

“Even lab results are taking a while to get back,” McKnight said. “The longer time between when someone tests and when someone starts their isolation, it can be dangerous.”

McKnight said the county has hired 34 contact tracers since the pandemic began. The positions are paid for by the federal grant. She said the county hopes to hire 21 more by the end of the year.

Weekly Cases

The county reported 1,136 new COVID cases over the past week. The age breakdowns were:

  • Children under 1 --- 6
  • 1-17 --- 121
  • 18-19 --- 58
  • 20s --- 277
  • 30s --- 171
  • 40s --- 164
  • 50s --- 136
  • 60s --- 109
  • 70s --- 54
  •  80s --- 29
  • 90s --- 11
  • 100s --- 0

There are now 1,369 people with COVID isolating at home.

Illinois State University

At Illinois State University, 26 new student cases were reported Friday, bringing its fall semester total to 1,790. That's more than 8% of the student body.

ISU students appear to be heeding the university's recommendation to get tested before returning home for Thanksgiving break. Around 2,858 students have been tested in the past week--way above average, and the 1,500 weekly goal. That's helped to drive down ISU's testing positivity rate, which has fallen to 3.5%.

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