Pandemic Deaths Among Seniors Rise In McLean County | WGLT

Pandemic Deaths Among Seniors Rise In McLean County

Dec 16, 2020

The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in McLean County before Thanksgiving is now tracking through to a rise in deaths among older residents.

The pandemic death toll involving McLean County residents is now 75. That number doesn't reflect the true burden on health facilities and the region. McLean County Coroner Kathy Yoder said the number of dead who pass through her office is significantly higher than the county statistic because non-McLean County residents come to Bloomington-Normal for treatment, and some die.

"We're at 131 COVID-related deaths," said Yoder.

And nearly a quarter of that total has come recently.

"In the last two weeks we've had 31 deaths reported to our office that are COVID-related deaths. That's markedly high. And 60% of the COVID-related deaths in the last two weeks are from long-term care facilities," said Yoder.

COVID deaths of people from long-term care facilities are coming through the coroner's office at three to four a day right now, said Yoder. The average age of person dying of COVID recently is nearly 78.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports more than two-thirds of all pandemic cases at long-term care facilities in McLean County connect to recent outbreaks. There are now 11 active outbreaks at such facilities in the county; there are eight closed outbreaks. "Active" means cases have been recorded at a facility within the last 28 days.

Yoder said when her staff goes to nursing homes to pick up bodies of people who died, most workers at those places take good precautions. One, in particular, did not.

"The staff member was not wearing their mask and they were, sadly, twirling it in their fingers. That makes me sad. And it makes me sad for all the other residents there," said Yoder.

Yoder said families depend on those staff members to keep loved ones safe, adding her office reported that health protocol violation to the state, but declined to name the facility.

State data showed as of Wednesday evening 365 COVID cases at long-term care facilities in McLean County are associated with active outbreaks.

Here are a couple ways to look at that number.

  • 69% of all COVID cases at long-term care facilities in McLean County connect to recent outbreaks (365 of 526 total as of Wednesday evening).
  • More than 41% of COVID deaths associated with McLean County long-term care facilities (15 of 36) have come in recent outbreaks.

State records show the largest active outbreaks are at the McLean County Nursing Home (64 cases, 1 death), Arcadia Care of Bloomington/Aperion (62 cases), and Heritage Health of Normal (47 cases, 6 deaths).

It's not just nursing homes that are hot spots. A third of the total pandemic-related deaths through the McLean County Coroner's office have come in the last two weeks.

It might have been worse. Statewide COVID numbers have not spiked, three weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday, but state data show the rapid rise in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving has not subsided much either. State Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday some hopeful trends seemed to stall after the long holiday weekend.

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