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Local News

Why We’re No Longer Reporting On COVID-19 Cases Every Day

WCBU microphone

By continuing daily stories that report low numbers, we run the risk of turning COVID data into background noise that is easily ignored.

Just about every day for the past 14 months, the WCBU newsroom has published and broadcast a story about the latest COVID-19 data coming from Tri-County area health departments.

We won’t do that today, and we want to explain why.

It’s not because the pandemic is over, because it’s not. Only 39% of Tri-County residents are vaccinated, and no children under the age of 12 are even able to get their first dose yet.

But we are going to stop our daily COVID-19 stories because the numbers are down significantly, including active cases, testing positivity rate, and new deaths. During previous spikes in 2020, it was important for the public to be able to closely monitor daily case totals to help them calibrate their own behaviors and stay aware of the level of load and stress on the Peoria area health care system.

That is less necessary now. By continuing daily stories that report low numbers, we run the risk of turning COVID data into background noise that is easily ignored.

We will instead only publish local COVID data stories once per week. Those stories will include case totals, hospitalizations, and deaths for the week. We’ll also include information about vaccination rates and the pace of vaccination—an increasingly important part of the COVID data picture. We’ll also eagerly report other types of COVID-related stories, such as the impact on long-haulers, vaccination campaigns underway, and how vaccinated parents are handling their unvaccinated kids.

And if conditions worsen, we’ll resume daily reports. Our users would expect no less.

If you have questions about this change in approach, please contact us at wcbupeoria@ilstu.edu.