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Watch now: McLean County Health Department urges residents to continue COVID precautions

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BLOOMINGTON — Fewer than 10 cases of COVID-19 in McLean County have been "breakthrough" cases, or ones that occur in people who are fully vaccinated, the McLean County Health Department said Thursday.

Administrator Jessica McKnight couldn't give the exact number of breakthrough cases due to health privacy concerns, but said the figure was "under 10." 

"The vaccines we have available for us are highly effective at doing what they are intended to do, which is prevent severe illness and hospitalization," she said during a press conference. "But no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing cases of COVID-19." 

MCHD is calling for people to continue using "layers of protection" against the virus as cases continue to rise both in McLean County and statewide. 

"We're cautioning everyone to just remember those layered mitigation strategies: social distancing, masking — especially if you're unvaccinated — and encouraging people who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated for additional protection," McKnight said. 

The comments come as the number of Delta variant cases rises in the area. McKnight said while officials know that the variant, said to be more infectious than others, is present in Central Illinois, they don't know exactly to what extent. 

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Reditus Laboratories in Pekin said Thursday that it had identified 67 Delta cases since it began testing for them earlier this year; 64 of those cases were found July 16. 

Reditus said 18 cases have been confirmed in people living in the Peoria and Bloomington-Normal areas, but the number is likely higher, since the Illinois Department of Public Health also does sequencing of its own, to a limited extent. 

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"Not every positive COVID test is sequenced," McKnight said. "When we receive reports that tell us how many, it shows a prevalence. The idea is to show the prevalence of a variant. So what we do know is the Delta variant is present. We know it is more infectious than previous variants, so that's one reason why we're seeing an increase in cases." 

Watch now: McLean County adds 91 COVID cases, 1 death as hospital beds fill

Vaccine update

Overall, the rate of COVID vaccination has slowed in McLean County, which is why health officials continue urging the public to get vaccinated, but spokeswoman Marianne Manko said things haven't yet slowed to a halt. 

"We do find that people just haven't gotten around to doing it — they figured that they would do it all at one time, when the kids were available, and things like that," she said. "We do know that we're still seeing a steady group of people coming in on a regular basis who are getting vaccinated, and that's always good news."

So far, nearly 168,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the county, according to IDPH. 

The city of Bloomington announced Thursday afternoon that Grossinger Motors Arena soon will end its four-month run as a COVID-19 vaccination site.

The Illinois National Guard ended its support team assistance last week, according to a news release.

The last two days of the clinic will be Tuesday, July 27, and Thursday, July 29, from 3 to 6 p.m. each day.

Once those two clinics are over, the total count of vaccines administered at the arena will be 50,157, the release stated.

Contact Lyndsay Jones at (309) 820-3275. Follow her on Twitter: @__lyndsayjones


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