UPDATED 4:50 p.m. | McLean County health officials announced 105 new confirmed coronavirus cases Friday as the county and Illinois State University’s seven-day positivity rates both dipped below 10%.
According to the McLean County Health Department (MCHD), 86 of those cases are in adults ages 18-29. Nine COVID patients in McLean County are hospitalized; that’s up two from Thursday. Two patients are in intensive care.
ISU reported 41 new positive tests on Friday. To date, 1,294 ISU students have tested positive for COVID-19. That is a lower figure that what's been previously reported. That's because ISU was previously reporting only positive test results (1,372), which included some students who tested positive more than once. The 1,294 number is unique students.
The county’s seven-day positivity rate fell to 9.4% while its cumulative positivity rate is 4.8% based on more than 58,500 tests.
ISU's positivity rate over the last week fell to 9.3%
McLean County stayed on the state's COVID warning list for a second straight week. The county's positivity rate, rate of new cases, and rate of emergency room visits remain too high.
The warning level doesn’t automatically trigger restrictions, but it’s meant to raise awareness for local government leaders and their communities.
MCHD administrator Jessica McKnight said she hopes the warning gets people's attention.
“When we entered that warning level last week, even prior to that when it saw it approaching, the city of Bloomington, the town of Normal, the county and even the (Illinois State) University have all stepped up,” McKnight said.
Thirty Illinois counties are on the state’s warning list, including Tazewell.
McKnight cautioned the 20-county region that includes McLean County and much of west-central Illinois is at risk of reaching into its own warning status, based on its 7% positivity rate. The state’s threshold is 8%.
Contact tracer reluctance
McKnight urged the public to cooperate with contact tracers when they call to find out where you have been and who you may have exposed to COVID-19. McKnight said the information they seek is vital, but they often don’t get cooperation.
“We have had individuals that have given us fake (phone) numbers when they are being tested or they are hostile whenever they are called or they report that they have no contacts or that they don’t work,” McKnight said.
McKnight said the county has hired 14 additional contract tracers and will bring on a dozen more in the next two weeks. She hopes to have 40 on staff by October. The Illinois Department of Public Health is covering the cost of the new workers.
Not just campuses
McKnight added while a bulk of the new coronavirus cases in McLean County are college-aged adults, the virus is spread beyond the Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan campuses.
“It’s not something if we isolated those students, COVID would go away,” McKnight said. “This virus is here and it’s going to take all of us being responsible and helping to control the spread. The virus spreads like wildfire as long as we give it fuel, it will continue to spread and burn.”
She said the county is also seeking new coronavirus cases related to the work and household contacts.
The county has 2,802 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, while approximately half (1,402) have been released from isolation and are considered recovered. MCHD said 1,373 people are isolating at home and there have been 18 COVID-related deaths.
The COVID testing site at the Interstate Center in Bloomington is averaging close to 700 daily tests in recent weeks. It remains open to everyone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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