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Peoria Civic Center testing site to add more days amid latest COVID surge

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson speaks during the weekly Tri-County COVID-19 briefing at the Noble Center.
Joe Deacon
Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson speaks during the weekly Tri-County COVID-19 briefing at the Noble Center.


Public health officials are rolling out more testing options and a new text notification tool for positive cases amid an alarming spike in COVID-19 in Greater Peoria.

There are now 99 people hospitalized with COVID in the Tri-County area, up from 64 a week ago, said Monica Hendrickson, administrator of the Peoria City/County Health Department. Just 8.6% of ICU beds are available in the state public health region (Region 2) that includes Peoria, she said Tuesday.

“Don’t go to the ER for COVID testing,” Hendrickson said. “Allow the ERs to focus on true medical emergencies and our urgent care locations to address those more severe or moderate health concerns.”

On Monday, Peoria-based OSF HealthCare asked people to stop coming into its facilities for asymptomatic and close contact testing. It cited the rise of COVID-19 infections primarily among the unvaccinated.

There have been 17 deaths from COVID-related complications in the Tri-County area in the past week, Hendrickson said Tuesday, bringing the pandemic death toll to 921.

The number of people with COVID isolating at home in Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties has doubled in the past week – up to 4,471 people. That’s still below the peak (6,890 people in mid-December 2020).

Testing site adds more days

Starting Jan. 3, the free testing site at the Peoria Civic Center will be open six days per week, instead of four, as part of a statewide initiative. It will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

That site also has COVID vaccines available. Only 56% of Peoria County residents are fully vaccinated.

Hendrickson said some people were waiting for a hole in their schedule, concerned that a dose or booster might make them feel sluggish for a day. She said now is the time to get vaccinated.

“One day of feeling cruddy is a lot better than getting COVID-19 and spreading it to others,” Hendrickson said. “There’s no need to wait. You can readily get a vaccine.”

Starting Tuesday, Illinois residents (including those in Greater Peoria) who test positive for COVID will receive a text message from the Illinois Department of Public Health. It will read:

IDPH COVID: There is important info for you. Call 312-777-1999 or click: https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/confirmed-or-possible-covid-19.html

It’s the first step in a larger change in the state’s centralization of contact tracing, Hendrickson said.

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Contact Ryan at rmdenha@ilstu.edu or (309) 438-5426.