PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A slight dip in daily COVID-19 cases has local health leaders saying they’re slightly optimistic going forward, but warns that can change at any time.
During Tuesday’s COVID-19 Health Press briefing, health experts revealed the tri-county area is now averaging 81 COVID-19 cases daily. They said Peoria County specifically averages 37 new cases daily.
Monica Hendrickson, Public Health Administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department, said the bulk of active cases are still coming from those who are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We also report in Peoria County that the highest number of our active cases are amongst 0-9-year-olds,” Hendrickson, said. “They currently account for 20% of the active cases in Peoria County.”
Hendrickson said active cases are considered those who are at home isolating or hospitalized. She said those in the 10-19 age group make up 17% of active cases and those in the 30-39 and 50-59 population make up 14% of active cases.
She clarified the high spread among children is not happening in the classrooms, but in their households.
“It’s not necessarily, again, child to child in a classroom setting,” Hendrickson said. “It is a sibling, a parent, someplace from the outside coming in, and then it’s usually a parent or an unvaccinated adult in that child’s life that gets ill and then the student gets ill or the child gets ill.”
Hendrickson acknowledged that while those 11-years-old and younger are still not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, she said it’s good news that Pfizer revealed its vaccine is effective in those 5-11-years-old and is currently awaiting FDA approval.
She said while younger kids are still waiting for that approval, it’s important for the community to do its part, such as following safety protocols, to help keep them safe.
“The community around them has to protect them by one, getting vaccinated, but also wearing masks, staying home when they’re ill, getting tested.”
Hendrickson did say vaccinations in the tri-county area are increasing. She said Peoria County is 51.1% fully vaccinated, Tazewell County is 50.7% and Woodford County is 48.3%. She attributes the increase to employment mandates and personal experiences.
“The larger group we’re seeing is people now having sadly had to experience having first hand through a family member or a friend or another loved one and watch them go through COVID and that’s really changing a lot of minds where it’s no longer an abstract idea for them,” Hendrickson said.
Health leaders also touched on booster shots and third doses, such as who’s eligible and which vaccine they can get.
Dr. Denise Francisco, Infectious Disease Physician at OSF ST. Francis and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria broke down the qualifications.
She said an extra dose is given to those immunocompromised and will be received at least four weeks after getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
However, Francisco said only those who’ve gotten the Pfizer vaccine can get a booster.
“This would be anyone, number one, 65-years and older who has already received their Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago,” Francisco said. “Also anyone who is above 18 and older, who either number one, have underlying medical conditions.”
She also said others who qualify for a booster shot include those living or working in high-risk environments, such as long-term care settings, or first responders, education staff, and those who work in healthcare, public transit, and the postal service.
Both Hendrickson and Francisco also encouraged the public to get their flu shots, saying it would not only help keep the community safe, but also help out the hospital system.