UPDATED 4:45 p.m. | McLean County reported two more COVID-related deaths of nursing home residents on Friday, bringing the county’s death toll from the coronavirus to 33.
The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) said the two people who died were a woman in her 90s and a man in his 80s.
The two deaths follow a series of COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the county. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), those facilities reported 73 new coronavirus cases from Oct. 2-16.
MCHD announced 46 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, pushing the total to 4,023 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Twelve people are hospitalized, but none are in intensive care. The county reported 289 patients are isolating at home and 3,689 people have completed their time in quarantine and are considered recovered.
The county’s seven-day testing positivity rate remains 4.4%, while the cumulative testing rate since the start of the pandemic held at 4.3%, based on more than 92,500 tests.
Half of Illinois' 102 counties were added to the state's COVID warning list Friday, including Ford and Macon counties in central Illinois. McLean County is not on the list, but MCHD Administrator Jessica McKnight said rising coronavirus caseloads across the state show how easily the virus can spread.
“We don’t just stay within our county. We don’t just stay even within our region. We do travel,” McKnight said. “If we are seeing increases all around us, there is always the potential that we could see increases in our case numbers as well.”
The county reported 241 new coronavirus cases in the last week. More than half of them involved people under age 30.
If the west central Illinois region continues to see rising coronavirus positivity rates, new restrictions may not be far away, even though McLean County’s testing rates have stabilized.
McKnight noted the state would look to target places that are creating the most risk for COVID-19 spread.
“I would expect to see similar to what they have seen with potentially restaurants or bars (being) closed to indoor dining, limiting the number of people that can gather,” McKnight said.
The positivity rate for the 20-county region is 7%. New mitigations kick in after three consecutive days of 8% rates.
Four of Illinois' 11 regions are under some restrictions.
Meanwhile, data from IDPH show COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in McLean County have diminished.
MCHD announced three nursing home deaths in the last week. The state reported six new coronavirus cases at nursing homes. McKnight said since cases are a lagging indicator, that's an encouraging sign.
“You have to be optimistic that we are seeing our numbers stay steady,” she said. “Is that the best case scenario? Probably not, but it is better than us seeing a surge right now.”
McKnight added COVID outbreaks in nursing homes often are the result of community spread.
The McLean County Emergency Management Agency said 656 people received coronavirus tests on Thursday at the Interstate Center in Bloomington. The site remains open to the general public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
There's no subscription fee to listen or read our stories. Everyone can access this essential public service thanks to community support. Donate now, and help fund your public media.