UPDATED 5:25 P.M. | McLean County’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate dropped below 11% on Friday after a week of gradual increases.
The county’s total of confirmed and probable coronavirus cases topped 9,000 as the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) announced 167 new cases.
The county’s hospital capacity remains unchanged over the past 24 hours. Ninety-three percent of hospital beds are in use, including 81% of intensive care beds. Twenty McLean County residents are hospitalized with COVID, up three from Thursday.
MCHD said 1,192 people are isolating at home while 253 additional patients have completed their time in quarantine since Thursday. The total number of recovered patients rose to 7,804.
The county has added 961 new coronavirus cases and eight COVID-related deaths in the last week. More than half of those cases (52%) involve people under age 40. The county’s COVID death toll remains 58.
The county’s rolling seven-day testing positivity rate fell to 10.9%, while the cumulative testing rate held at 6.2% based on more than 146,300 tests taken since the start of the pandemic.
MCHD Administrator Jessica McKnight said people who may have had a COVID exposure during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend should still get tested.
“It’s still too early for us to tell the full impact of travel and gatherings that may have occurred and led to further spread of the virus around our community and around our state,” McKnight said.
McKnight said it's not clear when a COVID vaccine will be ready for distribution locally. She said all the agency knows now is supplies will be limited at first.
“There will be priority groups,” McKnight explained. “We really want to focus on our high-risk health workers; help them so they can help the community.”
McKnight said the next priority population will likely be those who live in nursing/assisted-living homes and other congregant settings.
The state is still working on a priority list, McKnight said.
Gov. JB Pritzker said Friday the state expects to receive its first shipments of the vaccine in the next few weeks, provided the vaccines gain federal approval.
According to NPR Illinois, Pritzker said 109,000 doses will be distributed to Chicago and the 50 counties with the highest death rates.
McKnight said the county hopes some vaccines will be available early next year.
From @GovPritzker’s office just now:
Upon federal recommendation, the initial COVID-19 vaccines “will be dedicated to hospital and healthcare workers in the 50 counties in Illinois with the highest death rates per capita.”
The order of those 50 counties are as follows: pic.twitter.com/uUiIftT3hP
— Hannah Meisel (@hannahmeisel) December 4, 2020
Meanwhile, OSF HealthCare said it has a new COVID treatment available for high-risk patients. The antibody treatment known as BAM (Bamlanivimab) comes from Eli Lily.
The Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for use at select outpatient clinics.
“We are always excited about the advancements we are seeing in the treatment of the virus,” McKnight said. “There have been several treatments that have come around that have shown to be somewhat effective against fighting this virus.”
The treatment is intended to reduce hospital admissions. It will be given to patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
McLean County is working with neighboring Woodford County to find alternate housing for people who need to isolate because of COVID exposure.
Woodford County Health Department Administrator Hillary Aggertt said during a meeting this week the county was unable to find good options nearby for someone who may need a temporary place to quarantine.
“We asked around if any efficiency apartments would be available. They are, but they are not furnished,” Aggertt said. “We looked at hotel options in Peoria. That was a pretty big dollar amount for the security (deposit) as well as any rooms that you use.”
McKnight said McLean County has provided alternate housing for 11 people since the pandemic began, but none currently.
"That’s something that from the beginning of the pandemic was high priority for us, but it can be a challenge in a smaller community,” McKnight said.
Woodford County's population is less than 40,000.
Aggertt said McLean County would bill Woodford County for any people it accommodates. The federal government will reimburse those costs.
The two counties say they are still working on a formal agreement.
Also Friday, the McLean County Emergency Management Agency said the state has limited the number of daily tests that can be done at each community-based testing site. The Interstate Center in Bloomington is capped at 750 tests.
“This was put in place to assist areas that lack testing to obtain kits,” the agency said on its Facebook page. “The last couple weeks this hasn’t been a problem. If it consistently becomes one, we will try to work with the state to change our cap.”
The Bloomington site, run by Pekin-based Reditus Labs, exceeded that 750-count 23 times in November. The number of daily tests has dropped to an average of 546 over the last week.
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