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Peoria-Area COVID-19 Metrics Are Again Heading In The Wrong Direction. The Unvaccinated Are Impacted The Most

Monica Hendrickson
Tim Shelley
Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson speaks at a COVID-19 press briefing, July 22, 2021.

Peoria-area health officials are warning the region is again trending in the wrong direction on COVID-19 metrics.

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said the region's COVID-19 positivity rate has doubled in the past two weeks.

"On July 1st, our seven-day average for Peoria County was one new case a day," Hendrickson said. "Today, we're back up to double digits. We're reporting ten new cases a day."

She said the highest concentration of new cases are in the ZIP codes where vaccination rates are lowest.

"Many of the trends we are seeing in the cases we are seeing is recent travel from high-risk areas, camps, conferences, and workplaces," Hendrickson said. "Facilities that are not participating in masking or social distancing, or asking for vaccination status."

Concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant are mounting as cases are on the rise. Pekin-based Reditus Labs reported a "significant" increase in the number of Delta variant cases identified among COVID-19 positive samples during a recent random sequencing.

Dr. Douglas Kasper is the head of the infectious diseases unit at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria. He said the existing vaccines available are still highly protective against the new strain.

"While there is a benefit, and it's a huge benefit to the individual to become vaccinated, there is also just as large a population benefit by stopping viral replication in the future development of variant strains," Kasper said.

Kasper said it's difficult to say now if the Delta variant is more severe than past variants, but he said the severity factor becomes irrelevant among the vaccinated, who have a much lower chance of COVID-19 complications, including mortality.

Hendrickson said all of the people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in Peoria County are not fully vaccinated. All of Peoria County's recent COVID deaths were also unvaccinated people.

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