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Assume anyone has COVID-19, McLean County Health Department says, as cases rise to 38
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COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS WARN:

Assume anyone has COVID-19, McLean County Health Department says, as cases rise to 38

BLOOMINGTON — Assume that anyone you are in contact with has COVID-19, McLean County Health Department advised on Friday, as the number of county residents with the new strain of coronavirus jumped for the second straight day.

The health department reported Friday that seven more county residents have tested positive for the novel virus, bring to 38 the number of county residents who have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

That follows a spike of 11 new cases on Thursday.

"We're seeing COVID-19 is more present in our community," said Melissa Graven, health department communicable disease supervisor.

Meanwhile, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced Friday 1,209 new cases of coronavirus disease in Illinois and 53 additional deaths, including a Christian County woman in her 80s.

Statewide, 8,904 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 210 people have died, IDPH said.

In McLean County, some of the 38 people had contact with individuals previously diagnosed with COVID-19 but some weren't aware of having contact with anyone with COVID-19, Graven said. The health department is still investigating the more recent cases, interviewing those newly diagnosed and trying to connect with their close contacts.

"We do know that COVID-19 is in the community in people who don't show symptoms," said health department Administrator Jessica McKnight.

Graven attributed the increases on Thursday and Friday to more prevalence of COVID-19 in the community and increased testing, including at the McLean County Fairgrounds.

COVID-19 testing continues 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, until supplies are exhausted at the 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.

An average of about 100 people have been tested each day since the fairgrounds site opened on March 28, said Dion McNeal, McLean County communications specialist. McKnight said conversations are underway with the Illinois Department of Public Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about loosening criteria so more people may be tested.

Graven said she didn't know exactly how many McLean County residents  have been tested for COVID-19 but it's "well over 300."

The health department said that 23 of the 38 people were isolated at home, seven had recovered, six were hospitalized (one in an intensive care unit) and two had died.

The health department had reported on Tuesday that a man in his 70s had died and reported on March 22 that a woman in her 70s had died.

Of the 38 McLean County residents, 10 have been in their 60s, nine in their 70s, five in their 50s, five in their 20s, four in their 30s, three in their 40s and two in their 80s, according to the health department's website, health.mcleancountyil.gov.

The website further indicated that 65.8 percent of the McLean County residents who have tested positive have been female and 34.2 percent have been male.

Twelve of the 38 people who have tested positive are black.

"African-Americans have been disproportionately affected," Graven said. "It's too early to say why we're seeing it," she said, adding that the health department will make sure it's risk-reduction messages are getting out.

Meanwhile, the Joint Crisis Communication Team in Macon County said Friday that a third and fourth person in Macon County have tested positive for COVID-19.

One is a woman is in her 40s in isolation at Decatur Memorial Hospital. The other is a man in his 50s who has self-isolated at home.

Macon County Health Department is working to identify and monitor individuals who have been in close contact with the two people. Those people will be told how to reduce spread of COVID-19.

Besides McLean and Macon, Central Illinois counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19 include Champaign (51 cases), Peoria (nine), Sangamon (20, with two deaths), Christian (17, with two deaths) Tazewell (eight), LaSalle (six, with one death), Woodford (six), Douglas (nine), Iroquois (four) and the following counties with one each: DeWitt, Piatt, Logan, Ford, Marshall, Moultrie and Cumberland.

McKnight and Graven asked people to reduce their risk of spreading COVID-19 by staying home as much as they can; keeping at least a six-foot distance from other people; avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people; washing their hands frequently; covering coughs and sneezes; avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; and sterilizing frequently used surfaces.

People who experience COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath) are advised to stay home, then call their health care provider if their symptoms worsen. About 80 percent of people with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover after about two weeks of home isolation and treating their symptoms.

Contact Paul Swiech at 309-820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech.

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