'Serious Situation' As COVID Patients Pack B-N Hospitals | WGLT

'Serious Situation' As COVID Patients Pack B-N Hospitals

Nov 13, 2020

UPDATED 4:20 p.m. | Bloomington-Normal hospitals are running low on available beds as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, officials said Friday.

According to the McLean County Health Department (MCHD), 22% of intensive care beds were available as of Thursday, and 17% of all beds are open. Friday was the first time the department reported such detailed hospitalization data for OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center and Carle BroMenn Medical Center.

The recent surge in cases could increase demand for hospital beds even more, MCHD Administrator Jessica McKnight said Friday.

“We are just now in the beginning stages of potentially another peak, and we know that hospitalizations are another lagging indicator, so this is a serious situation,” she said.

McKnight noted hospitals are dealing with more than just COVID--and that also can limit available beds.

She said the hospitals have plans to enable them to temporarily add beds, and the health department is working on surge capacity, too.

“We are also working with our local partners to identify locations that could be set up as alternate care sites,” said McKnight, adding the county doesn't have any agreements finalized for alternate sites.

Carle BroMenn in Normal put up an overflow tent outside its emergency room in the spring, but didn't need at the time and soon took it down.

Friday's new cases

Meanwhile, MCHD announced 120 new coronavirus cases Friday, and the county’s fifth COVID-related death in the last eight days.

A woman in her 90s who was associated with a long-term care facility is the county’s 43rd COVID-related death.

MCHD reports nine McLean County residents are hospitalized due to COVID-19, but none are in intensive care. The county reported 1,353 people are isolating at home and 4,811 people have completed their time in quarantine and are considered recovered.

The county’s seven-day testing positivity rate dipped slightly to 10.6%.

“We are seeing substantial community transmission, that includes our community settings such as schools,” McKnight said. “That just tells us how prevalent the virus is in our community.”

McLean County announced 968 new coronavirus cases in the last week. That’s the second-highest total since the pandemic began. The county also added 410 more cases to its total to account for probable positives that came from the rapid antigen tests.

Sixty-one percent of those 1,378 additional cases involve patients under age 40. The largest subset comes from people in their 20s.

The age breakdowns for all the cases added between Nov. 6-13:

  • Under: 8
  • 1-17: 147
  • 18-19: 85
  • 20s: 408
  • 30s: 189
  • 40s: 198
  • 50s: 170
  • 60s: 104
  • 70s: 39
  • 80s: 22
  • 90s: 8
  • 100s: 0

Warning status

Also, McLean County has returned to the Illinois Department of Public Health's COVID warning list because of rising caseloads and positivity rates.

McKnight said the warning sign is intended to make people think twice about choices that could increase coronavirus spread.

“If you are looking to make decisions about should I have a gathering, should I travel, what you are seeing right now with the data, shows you that we are recommending that people do limit their travel,” McKnight said.

All but six Illinois counties are now under the warning designation. The state reached a new record with 15,415 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, along with 27 additional deaths. That pushed the state’s death toll to 10,504.


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.