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Peoria hotel to serve as alternative COVID-19 housing site, tentative optimism with local virus numbers

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There was some optimism on Thursday at the Tri-County Region COVID-19 briefing that numbers are better than some experts predicted.

But they said we must continue to adhere to social distancing with new research from the CDC showing the virus' ability to spread is worse than they thought.

"The initial thought was that the reproductive number of the number of people an individual could infect was approximately 2, so for example if i was infectious I would most likely be spreading it to two other people. However new data and modeling suggests the number is closer to 6… so think about that." said Monica Hendrickson with the Peoria City/County Health Department

Dr. Samer Sader with UnityPoint Health said right now Peoria has enough intensive care unit beds to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If you asked me this two weeks ago, I probably would have said, ooh, that's a little scary. I'm not so scared right now." said Dr.Sader

Hendrickson said the region has just over 300 ICU beds. Nineteen people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases are in the ICU right now, and 29 confirmed or suspected patients are in non-ICU beds.

But he said we must continue to be careful because that can change very quickly.

"It doesn't take too many patients coming into your hospital ending up in the intensive care unit intubated to take up a lot of ventilators for a long time."

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis also announced at the briefing that the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel will now serve as an alternative housing site.

He said the hotel will take people who are symptomatic and require isolation, but can't due to their current housing circumstances.

The hotel will also admit exposed but asymptomatic people for quarantine and people living in shelters who have health factors that put them at higher risk.

"Proactive placement of these individuals in hotels helped to reduce their risk, increase the ability for social distancing within the shelters, and also reduce the strain on the healthcare system." said Mayor Jim Ardis

The mayor said Peoria County will pay the initial upfront costs for those rooms, but said that FEMA will reimburse those costs under the emergency declaration.

Kaitlin Pearson

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