Tri-County COVID-19 infections at 7-month high, health leaders urge vaccines & public compliance


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — COVID-19 cases continue to spike in the Tri-County area, and local health leaders are urging the public to help curb the current surge.

Monica Hendrickson, Public Health Administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department, said the Tri-County area is now averaging 274 new Covid-19 cases daily. She said Peoria County alone is averaging 112 new cases each day.

Hendrickson said the stream of new cases is also burdening the public health systems as 1 in 3 ICU beds in the area’s region, Region 2, are used for COVID-19 patients.

“We currently are also seeing the highest positivity rates in the past 7 months,” Hendrickson said. “There are a lot of ways we can address this, first and foremost make sure you are getting tested.”

She said there are multiple places to get tested in the area. But she said if you need to miss work or school due to the virus and need documentation to reflect that, she recommends using a laboratory system such as CVS pharmacies, Walgreens, prompt care, medical groups, clinics, hospitals, health departments, and the Peoria Civic Center.

“There are multiple over-the-counter tests or OTCs that you can buy at a Walgreens or at a CVS,” Hendrickson said. “These are really critical at helping to identify your symptoms, but it’s also important to note that these tests do not get reported to your hospital systems.”

As far as vaccinations go, Hendrickson said 54.67% of Peoria County is fully vaccinated, 53.69% of Tazewell County is fully vaccinated, and 50.8% of Woodford County is fully vaccinated.

She’s encouraging all eligible to get their booster shots when they can, and let breakthrough cases deter them from getting a vaccine in the first place.

“Their primary goal [vaccines] is to prevent death and severe illness,” Hendrickson said. “So I know we get maybe too comfortable thinking that it’s supposed to do everything for us, it is a magic bullet, no. What it’s meant to do is create barriers or protection so that we don’t inundate our hospital systems, our public health infrastructure, or cause severe mortality or morbidity,”

Hendrickson said the area is not where it was a year ago, now with the addition of vaccines, but she said going forward it’s up to everyone to play their part in reducing the spread.

“It does become a strike of balance of at what point do we have mitigations and at what point do we need to recognize that individuals take on the role of protecting themselves and their communities,” Hendrickson said. “I personally hope we don’t see severe mitigations going levels again, but that’s on us. That’s us wearing our masks, getting tested if we’re sick, and socially distancing and getting our vaccines.”

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