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“The virus is being transmitted among us” – Health Officials stress impact likely casts a much wider net than confirmed cases

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(WEEK) - McLean County saw seven new cases on Friday of COVID-19, while Tazewell County saw two.

These numbers may seem small compared to those we hear coming out of the Chicago-land area, but it is important to understand the full scope of these numbers and how many more people are impacted.

With the highest number of confirmed cases in Central Illinois, the McLean County Health Department said there are a few reasons for the perceived jump, like the area's first drive through testing site.

"We have a testing site here that is able to test a lot more people. A certain percentage of our cases are linked to confirmed cases of COVID-19 already but a fair amount of them don't report any known exposure to a COVID-19 case which just strengthens our message that COVID is here it's in our communities and it's a community transmitted virus that we're monitoring." said Melissa Graven the communicable disease supervisor with the department

That drive through testing site has the capacity to test around 250 people a day, they have been averaging around 100.

The McLean County Health Department said there is talk of opening up testing to more people, but it's not up to them. Criteria is set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"There is on going communication that we're involved in with all of the partners that are involved about the possibility of loosening that testing criteria. The frustration is more so that we don't have the answers for our community." said Jessica McKnight with the McLean County Health Department.

In the Tri-County area (Peoria, Woodford, and Tazewell County) they are stressing to the public that numbers do not reflect the spread in the community. Its impact likely casts a much wider net.  

"We have 67 active monitoring currently being done by contacts. These are individuals that are daily reporting their symptoms." said Monica Hendrickson with the Peoria City/County Health Department

Hendrickson said the public is turning to local resources put in place to get the best help possible.

" OSF's telehealth in one week alone had 300 calls related to COVID-19."

They said it is important to act as if everyone has the virus, wash your hands, and social distance.

In terms of recovery, Hendrickson said it is not as simple as testing negative. She said respiratory illness like this one have long term health impacts and long recovery times. The best thing you can do, they said, is to stay home to protect you and your family.

Kaitlin Pearson

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