BLOOMINGTON — Eleven more people in McLean County have the novel strain of coronavirus as the administrator of the county health department emphasized that COVID-19 is "widespread."
The 11 new cases reported by the McLean County Health Department on Thursday mean 31 county residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
"COVID-19 is widespread across Illinois," health department Administrator Jessica McKnight told The Pantagraph. "This is what we have been expecting and what we have been preparing for."
"We know this is a difficult time for all of us," McKnight said. "But we're all in this together and we need to be responsible in our behavior."
To lessen the spread of COVID-19, she urged people to stay home as much as they can; keep at least a six-foot distance from other people; avoid gatherings of 10 or more people; wash their hands frequently; cover coughs and sneezes; avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; and sterilize frequently used surfaces.
McKnight did not yet have Thursday afternoon detailed information on the 11 new cases as the health department's communicable disease staff was just starting their case investigation of each person.
But the health department reported that 17 of the 31 people are at home in isolation, six are hospitalized and six have recovered.
Two people have died. The health department reported Tuesday that a man in his 70s had died and reported on March 22 that a woman in her 70s had died.
The health department on Thursday began releasing summaries of the county's COVID-19 cases on its website, health.mcleancountyil.gov.
That information included that 61.3 percent of the cases had been women and 38.7 percent had been men. And while McLean County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 have ranged in age from their 20s to their 80s, most of the people have been in their 60s and 70s.
Elsewhere, DeWitt, Piatt and Logan counties each reported their first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
A 52-year-old DeWitt County woman began experiencing symptoms March 23 and was tested one week later, according to the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department. It is believed she was exposed to the virus through a household member who had attended a conference in Chicago, the department said. She was in contact with the department before testing and urged to isolate at home.
The Piatt County case is a 22-year-old who is a health care worker who worked with COVID-19 patients in Champaign was tested at the McLean County Fairgrounds, the department said. She developed a fever March 28 and did not return to work after symptoms began. She and another household member have remained in isolation since symptoms began, according to the department.
A Logan County woman in her 40s tested positive at a drive-through testing site in Springfield, according to the Logan County Health Department. She experienced minor symptoms, is improving and is isolated at home, according to the department.
In Livingston County, a male in his 60s is also recovering at home after a positive COVID-19 test. That raises the county's total to six positive tests.
Statewide, 715 new cases were reported Thursday, with an additional 16 deaths. That brings the total in Illinois to 7,695 cases with 157 deaths, according to Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In his daily briefing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, "Our strongest weapon against COVID-19 is you."
Calling on people to heed stay-at-home guidelines, Pritzker announced a new initiative called "All in Illinois."
Pritzker said, "We are one Illinois and we are all in this together."
COVID-19 testing is continuing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, until supplies are exhausted, at the McLean County Fairgrounds, 1106 Interstate Drive, Bloomington. To be tested, you must be a first responder, health care provider, age 65 or older or have an underlying medical condition and you must have a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.
People with mild COVID-19 symptoms — about 80 percent of people with the virus — are asked to stay home and call their health care provider if their symptoms don't improve.
Kevin Barlow contributed to this story.
Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota
Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech.
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