‘Cases cannot keep going up at this rate’; Tri-County area COVID cases are as high as last March

Coronavirus

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Tri-County area health officials describe the area’s current position during the pandemic as both ‘disappointing’ and ‘severe.’

Monica Hendrickson, Peoria City/County Public Health Administrator, said the Tri-County area has had an increase of 2,030 new COVID-19 cases in the past week.

She said the area is averaging 290 new COVID-19 cases daily, and Peoria County alone averages 131 new cases each day. Hendrickson said these numbers haven’t been this high since March.

“This is the worst part about what our current situation is — to have our numbers be similar to March, a time period where vaccinations were not readily available, and we did have testing just being more and more accessible,” Hendrickson said. “We’re in a totally different situation.”

Hendrickson said the surge is primarily due to those who aren’t vaccinated against the virus yet. She said all three counties, Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford, have just above 50% of their population fully vaccinated.

“There are no words to describe this,” Hendrickson said. “In a season of hope, in a season of future and thinking of a new year and those prospects, I find myself, and other public healthcare professionals, in sadness.”

She said it’s hard to understand the situation when there are resources available to help curb the spread.

“I’d understand if we were in a situation where we had limited vaccinations,” Hendrickson said. “I would understand if we were in a situation where testing just dropped off the face of the Earth, and we didn’t even have treatment capacity. But we do, it really is a loss of words.”

She also said the spike in cases is ‘wreaking havoc on our healthcare and public health systems.’

“Our ICU bed capacity is nowhere close to where we want to be,” Hendrickson said. “We’re sitting at only 11% of our ICU beds available, meaning that 89% of our ICU beds are currently in use.”

Hendrickson said Emergency Departments are also getting flooded with people coming to them for monoclonal antibody treatments and COVID-19 testing on top of those coming in for significant complications due to COVID.

She said people wanting monoclonal antibody treatments should speak with their primary care provider and those wanting COVID-19 testing should go to designated testing sites such as prompt care, ambulatory care, or retail pharmacies.

Hendrickson said no particular age group is contributing to the surge but said, at this point, getting the vaccine and booster shot is the best way to move forward.

“I cannot stress how severe we are in right now, cases cannot keep going up at this rate,” Hendrickson said. “We have a solution, it’s scientifically-based, it is data-driven, and yet we only have 55.16% of our County fully vaccinated.”

She’s said she’s hoping, for the holiday season, people will do their part in helping to get the community back on track.

“The best thing you can give each other is to get out of this pandemic, and to do so is to get vaccinated — that is the way,” Hendrickson said.

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