Less Testing At ISU As County's Positivity Rate Hits New High | WGLT

Less Testing At ISU As County's Positivity Rate Hits New High

Sep 6, 2020

McLean County health officials reported 55 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the lowest number in over a week. But that came amid a steep decline in testing at Illinois State University, where on-campus testing sites are closed for the Labor Day weekend.

There are now 1,267 active cases in McLean County—a new record. That includes six people who are hospitalized (two in intensive care), and 1,261 others isolating at home.

McLean County's testing positivity rate climbed again to 12.5%, also a new record. McLean County is already one of 29 counties on the state's warning level.

Coronavirus - Testing Positivity Rate
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Little is known about the 55 new cases.

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) a week ago stopped reporting detailed demographic information about new cases, such as ages, ZIP codes, and ethnicity. That makes it hard for the public to determine which of the county's newest cases are tied to ISU, or happening in the wider community.

"We are working around the clock, prioritizing case investigation and contact tracing efforts, but are currently limited in our ability to provide timely data updates beyond the most essential information," health department administrator Jessica McKnight said Saturday. "We are dedicated to being as transparent as possible, but may not be able to update the more detailed demographic information ... for our cases as often as we were previously doing."

ISU reported 19 new cases on Sunday. But those cases came from only 126 test results reported Sunday, down from 705 last Sunday. ISU's two on-campus testing sites for asymptomatic students are closed for four straight days over the holiday weekend. Students can still get tested at the Interstate Center, about five miles west of campus.

At the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, which has a more robust testing program, several testing sites remained open over the Labor Day weekend.

ISU's testing positivity rate (7-day weekly average) has fallen to 16.9%. It had previously approached 25%.

McLean County is part of the Illinois Department of Public Health's Region 2, along with 19 other counties. Region 2's testing positivity rate is now 7.7%. If it hits 8% and stays there for three straight days, automatic state mitigiations would be triggered. That's already happened in two other regions.

Bloomington-Normal ranks No. 5 among all U.S. metro areas with the most new cases per capita in the past two weeks, according to The New York Times.

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