BLOOMINGTON — An eighth person in McLean County and a second person in LaSalle County have confirmed cases of the novel strain of coronavirus as COVID-19 continues its spread in Central Illinois.
Both counties' health departments announced the new cases on Monday.
The McLean County case is a woman in her 60s with an underlying medical condition, said health department Administrator Jessica McKnight.
The woman is hospitalized in good condition, said health department communicable disease supervisor Melissa Graven.
The new LaSalle County case is a man in his 40s who is recovering at home in isolation, that county's health department said.
While both health departments continue to investigate the cases and are working to identify people who have had close contact with the two individuals, they reported that each person had not traveled internationally recently, and the health departments had not yet been able to identify them being in close contact with someone already diagnosed with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Illinois Department of Public Health announced Monday 236 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths in Cook County. So far statewide, 1,285 cases of the virus have been reported in 31 counties, including McLean, LaSalle, Woodford (two cases), Livingston (one), Champaign (two), Peoria (three) and Sangamon (four).
While most people with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath) for two weeks, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, among older adults and people with existing health problems. There is no treatment for COVID-19.
So far in Illinois, 12 people have died, including a McLean County woman.
That woman, in her 70s, died late last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and being admitted to a hospital intensive care earlier in the week. Her death was announced by the health department Sunday.
"We are in the ramping-up stage," Graven said of coronavirus diagnoses in McLean County. But she said if people take the recommended precautions — staying home as much as possible, maintaining a 6-foot distance from other people, washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and sterilizing frequently used surfaces — the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed.
"Prolonged social distancing efforts will help to flatten the curve," Graven said.
While the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in McLean County is on pace with what the health department expected, Graven said, "There is not near enough testing going on."
Graven also is concerned that health care providers won't have enough personal protective equipment to handle the expected increase in patients. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator David Hopper said the health department, on behalf of the two McLean County hospitals, will be seeking donations of masks, gowns and face shields from medical providers performing non-emergency work.
More than 90 people have been tested for COVID-19 in McLean County and 36 test results are pending, Graven said.
Based on health department investigation so far, four of the eight people who have tested positive have not traveled internationally and have no known contact with someone already diagnosed with COVID-19, Graven said. She clarified that anyone with COVID-19 must have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but, in some cases, the original person with the virus has not yet been identified.
Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and contact their health care provider if their symptoms worsen.
Contact Paul Swiech at 309-820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech.
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