MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — The pandemic is far from over as the highly-contagious Delta variant continues to spread across the state of Illinois.
According to the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 case tracker, McLean County is averaging 126 new cases per 100,000 people in a seven day average. The CDC classifies this as an area of “high” transmission.
Local health leaders with the McLean County Health Department are encouraging vaccinations as the county saw its highest single-day count of COVID-19 cases since May. The health department reported 38 new cases on Thursday.
The total of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic now sits at more than 19,000.
Public Affairs Coordinator Marianne Manko said the recent spike in cases is mainly due to everyone going maskless and the highly-contagious Delta Variant.
“New data shows us that people infected with the Delta have a higher viral load, meaning more viruses in their body,” Manko said.
The Delta variant is dominating the new case count in central Illinois.
Pekin’s Reditus Labs this week said it’s the dominant strand of the virus in the area. It currently accounts for 93% of new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Manko said viruses know no borders and are looking for readily available hosts.
“They need people to be the human host so that they can spread and become stronger. We’ve clearly seen that with the Delta Variant,” Manko said.
The spike is also a concern for local bar owners as many cities are reinstating masks in public buildings per the CDCs indoor masking guidelines.
General Manager of Pub II in Normal, Lucus Rokos, said its something he’s been concerned about since March 2020.
“After going through what we did last year, not having the income that we needed and now that we’re approaching our busy season with students back, we need these days to survive,” Rokos said.
Rokos said if he’s learned anything in the last year and a half, it’s to always be readily adaptable in all situations.
“Fortunately now, we’re well versed in what to do if it happens. Hopefully it’s just a spike that’s going to go away,” Rokos said.
However, if not enough people get vaccinated, Manko said more spikes and mutations are inevitable.
“It’s the unvaccinated [population] really that provide them (viruses) with that human host in order to continue to mutate into stronger variants,” Manko said.
So far, Manko said she doesn’t expect any further mitigations to be announced from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
Manko said IDPH is ultimately the one who decides mitigation measures.