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Peoria-Area Vaccine Demand Sags As COVID-Related Hospitalizations Grow

Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio

Tri-County health officials are reported 220 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths linked to the virus on Thursday.The deaths include a man in his 60s and woman in her 70s in Peoria County, and a Woodford County woman in her 80s.

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said while the Tri-County region saw a slight improvement in the average number of cases over the past week, open ICU capacity is at just 17 percent, and an average 130 non-ICU beds are in use by COVID patients.

Most of those hospitalized aren't vaccinated. Hendrickson said there's been a recent dip in demand, even as supply has increased.

"Regardless of the number of cases we're seeing and the hospitalizations, all of which are linked to our ability to get people quickly vaccinated, remember, for us to get to Phase 5, we need 50 percent of our population to be fully vaccinated," she said.

Currently, about 30% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Hendrickson said communities have plateaued. But the Peoria area isn't out of the woods yet.

"People are under the assumption that, well, at least those who are high-risk are getting vaccinated, so now we can take a deep breath and relax and be a little more complacent," she said. "And with that, we saw our cases increase, and now our hospitalizations increase, and now our deaths (are) starting to increase."

Hendrickson said the Illinois National Guard is taking over the Heddington Oaks vaccination site to allow the health department to deploy mobile teams to areas where vaccination rates are as low as 15%. Hendrickson said those areas are primarily concentrated within the city of Peoria.

There are currently 167 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, including 46 in the ICU. Five percent of the area's COVID-19 patients are home isolating.

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COVID-19 in Tri-County

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.