Hendrickson: Rising COVID-19 cases in the Tri-County area likely won't require tighter restrictions
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the Tri-County area, but Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson says the trend isn't necessarily alarming.
“I will say that this is still very much different than what we saw in December in January,” said Hendrickson. “We're not seeing that strain on our hospitalization system.”
Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties are classified at a high community transmission level for COVID-19. Statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) show the three counties have logged more than 7,500 new coronavirus infections since mid-April, an average of more than 800 additional cases per week.
But Hendrickson doesn’t foresee a return to strict measures to reduce the spread.
“I don't see as going into the same type of mitigation levels that we saw (before), and that's really based on the fact that we have just so many tools in our box now to kind of really handle this,” she said. “One, our own awareness from the medical profession on how to treat and handle the care management for COVID patients.
“Vaccinations have decreased the severity and we have antivirals. Overall, we have a lot more assets than we had, so I don't think the mitigations that we had to put in place when it was so novel are things that we're going to be seeing right now.”
Hendrickson said previous COVID-19 surges resulted in depletion of available hospital bed space in intensive care units, but that’s not the case at this time.
“Right now, we're seeing at most five ICU beds in use related to COVID-19, which tells us a couple of things,” said Hendrickson. “One, that people are getting tested and getting treated. So if you get tested early and you're able to get antivirals, it’s really effective in making sure that the severity is not causing an issue.
“Secondly, vaccinations are working. We're not seeing that severity that we saw, especially with the boosters being pushed through. So while we are seeing an uptake, which is common in this endemic phase, we're not seeing the severity to match it, which is good news for us.”
IDPH guidelines for areas of high community level transmission recommend people wear masks indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. The department’s figures show 58.6% of Tri-County residents are fully vaccinated, and 61.8% have received at least one shot.
“I still think people should be taking precautions, because you don't know the individual beside you (and) what their vaccination status is, or what their overall health history is; they might have an autoimmune issue or whatnot,” said Hendrickson. “Wearing a mask helps contain the spread. Most importantly though, if you are not feeling good, don't go out. Get yourself tested (and) if you are positive, stay at home and self-isolate for five days.”
As of Wednesday, the Tri-County has logged 101,287 total coronavirus illnesses, with 1,115 deaths attributed to COVID-19.