McLean County health officials announced 421 new coronavirus cases and the 42th COVID-related death on Thursday, as the county’s testing positivity rate jumped to 10.9%. That’s the highest rate since Sept. 6, following a surge of new cases when Illinois State University students returned to campus.
The new cases were compiled over a 48-hour period; the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) did not report new totals on Veterans Day.
MCHD reported the latest COVID-related death was a man in his 70s who was not associated with a long-term care facility.
Nursing home deaths rise
The latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) indicates the COVID death toll at Bickford Senior Living of Bloomington has risen to eight following an outbreak that has led to 48 coronavirus cases at the facility. The number of cases approaches the 59 that were confirmed at the Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, where there were 11 COVID-related deaths reported in the spring.
According to IDPH, long-term care facilities in McLean County have reported 228 coronavirus cases and 23 deaths from COVID complications.
McLean County’s COVID count has reached 6,096, a figure that now includes probable positive cases from rapid antigen tests.
Eight patients are hospitalized with COVID complications, according to MCHD, while 1,308 people are isolating at home and 4,738 patients have completed their time in quarantine and are considered recovered.
Illinois State University on Thursday reported six new COVID-positive students, bringing its total to 122 new cases in the past week. ISU's testing positivity rate fell to 7%.
ISU has tested 1,737 students in the past week, more than the 1,500-weekly goal.
Work from home
MCHD Administrator Jessica McKnight is asking employers to allow employees to work from home whenever possible over the next three weeks as the holidays approach.
“Our goal is to reduce transmission as we head into the holidays so businesses and schools can remain open,” McKnight said.
District 87 has announced it will shift to all-remote learning during the holiday season to limit the potential for COVID spread.
McKnight also urged the public to leave the home only when necessary and to limit public gatherings.
“In our current situation, with a rising prevalence of the virus, attending even small gatherings that mix households, or traveling to areas that are experiencing high rates of positivity, is not advised and is potentially dangerous,” McKnight said. “Please, travel only if necessary.”
Testing, positivity climb
The county’s seven-day testing positivity rate has doubled in the last two weeks, while the cumulative positivity rate has risen to 5.4%.
The COVID testing site at the Interstate Center in Bloomington has experienced record traffic in the last week. The site has averaged more than 1,000 daily tests in the last seven days, including a new high of 1,244 tests conducted on Tuesday.
The rolling positivity rate for Region 2 that includes McLean and 19 other west-central Illinois counties rose Wednesday to 14.6%. The state reported a new record 12,657 cases on Wednesday and 145 deaths.
ISU also reported a surge of 35 new coronavirus cases over a 24-hour period. The campus testing positivity rate jumped to 8.2%
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