PEORIA (WEEK) -- The faces of the men and women felled by Covid-19 are changing in Peoria County.
From a pandemic that initially claimed more white women, most in the 80's and 90's, today's fatalities are among a younger and more diverse part of the population.
In the spring of 2020, we were forced to re-think what vulnerable looked like.
Between April 4 and December 31, 2020 Peoria County lost 144 lives where COVID-19 was the primary or contributing factor to the end result.
Virtually all of them had a pre-existing condition or comorbidity.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension was - by far - the number one condition.
One medical professional tells 25 News that condition is already putting pressure on the body before the patient contracts Covid-19.
"All those systems work together for the basis of respiratory and breathing," said Jamie Harwood, Peoria County Coroner. "It's not one singular event. So, it's, 'Did Covid cause it? Or did Covid make it worse?'"
Records from his office indicate 60% of the Covid-related deaths in that 9 month timeframe were among people in their 80's and 90's.
58% were women, versus 42% men.
On average, someone was dying from or with COVID-19 16 times per month.
Nearly all, 143 of the 144 victims, had at least one comorbidity.
Hypertension was followed by diabetes, heart disease, heart failure and Alzheimer's as the top 5 most common issues found among those 144 patients.
We also broke down the numbers by zip code, finding Chillicothe had the highest fatality rate during that stretch, the first wave of Covid-19.
Harwood said he wasn't surprised though, as the 61523 has a high concentration of long term care facilities.
Along with Peoria Heights (61614) and central Peoria (61604), those three areas made up the bulk of the deaths in 2020.
When putting those stats together, we found the average COVID-19 victim in Peoria County during that time was a white woman, 83 years old, with hypertension and diabetes from Chillicothe.
This was before the vaccine started to become more readily available in January, 2021.
And the coroner is tracking fewer deaths now.
"I feel confident moving into flu season, pneumonia season, things like that," Harwood said, "I don't think Covid's ever going away. I think this is something that we're going to have to live with."
But more recent stats also indicate the average victim now is 61 years old, most likely from the 61604 or 61605 areas of Peoria.
African-Americans made up just 14% of COVID-19 deaths over the first 9 months of this pandemic.
That rate has more than tripled of late, accounting for 45% of the deaths in May, June, and the first half of July.
That puts the likelihood of a black resident dying with or from COVID-19 even with white residents.
Caucasians had been involved in more than 80% of the fatalities during the above mentioned 2020 period.
COVID-19 now claims an even number of men and women.