PEORIA – Cases of COVID-19 continued to increase at a staggering rate in the Tri-County Area this week.
New cases grew by 5,910 in the last seven days. The Tri-County now sits at an average of 844 new cases each day, up from 682 last week. Deaths continue to rise, with nine in the last 24 hours. And on Thursday, the positivity rate in Peoria County was 27.3% – the highest it has ever been since testing became widely available.
Hospitals continue to be overwhelmed by the number of cases, said Monica Hendrickson, administrator of the Peoria City/County Public Health Department.
“Currently, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois are reporting 35 ICU beds and 200 non-ICU beds in use,” said Hendrickson. “Our ICU bed capacity continues to average 45 beds a day. However, our non-ICU bed usage continues to grow, where we are now averaging 220 beds in use each day.”
There is less than 10% intensive care unit capacity remaining – but in truth, that number is lower because there are not enough staff members to man those beds, said Hendrickson.
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This week, walk-in clinics throughout the area closed or reduced hours as staff members were redeployed to areas of higher need. Both OSF HealthCare and UnityPoint Health have asked for federal assistance with the staffing shortage as already stretched hospital staffs are reduced even further with personnel calling in sick with COVID.
More on the pandemic: Amid COVID staffing crunch, Peoria-area walk-in clinics have had to close temporarily
“I’m not sure when or if they are getting nurses or other health care providers in (from the federal government), but they were part of that conversation and they have requested those resources,” said Hendrickson.
Since the majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, health officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated and boosted, and to wear masks in public. In an effort to make getting vaccinated easier, PCCHD added weekend hours to its walk-in vaccination clinic.
“We had our first weekend clinic on Saturday and Sunday, and I think in total we saw just shy of 300 individuals,” said Hendrickson. “We were very excited about that. ... The majority were boosters, but we still saw people coming and getting their primary series. So again, it’s never too late to get your vaccine.”
Leslie Renken can be reached at 309-370-5087 or email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.
This article originally appeared on Journal Star: New COVID cases in Peoria area hit nearly 6,000 this week