Vaccine eligibility expanding while new cases increase



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PEORA (WEEK) — While vaccinations in Central Illinois are increasing, so are COVID-19 cases. The New York Times says relative to population, the Peoria area ranks ninth for highest average daily cases.

The Times said the Peoria Metro area (Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell and Wooford) has seen more than 2500 new cases during the last two weeks.

Heart of Illinois ABC data shows similar trends in the tri-county. We were seeing a steady decrease of cases every week earlier in the year…but those trends reversed three weeks ago.

The Tri-County area is also seeing an increase in hospitalizations. The graph below shows the spikes during November and December. There was a steady decrease in the weeks following, but then in late March, numbers started to rocket back up.

“The population we’re seeing is a mix of individuals that have a hesitancy to a vaccine that’s usually really young adults,” said Monica Hendrickson, administrator at the Peoria City/County Health Department.

Hendrickson said this uptick among young adults could be for a variety of reasons.

“Some of it is travel, some of it is St. Patrick’s Day…and a lot of it is youth sports and not just the activity on the field, but also the activities surrounding it,” she said.

But with so many other states opening up and reducing mitigations, why is Peoria the one feeling the brunt of it? Hendrickson had a few working theories.

“Even though we think that Peoria is this kind of small Midwest town, we do have some large employers, some international employers that do a lot of travel and one of those concerns we have is those variants, and those coming into our community more and more now,” said Hendrickson.

Health officials continue to put out the same message — social distance, where a mask if you can’t, and get a vaccine when you’re eligible.

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