First cases of Omicron variant confirmed in Peoria County

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson.
Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson.(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 7:58 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) - Peoria County has its first confirmed cases of the Omicron variant as the latest spike of COVID-19 infections prompts local health leaders take steps to reduce the burden on already-crowded emergency rooms.

They’re urging healthy people not to go to emergency rooms to get tested because hospital workers are too busy treating sick patients.

Monica Hendrickson, the Peoria City/County Health Department administrator, said at her weekly news briefing Tuesday that the first Omicron case was confirmed locally last week.

“Omicron is in Peoria County. We have identified cases of it, and we expect that to soon become our most dominant strain here locally,” said Hendrickson.

Demand for testing is leading to long lines at an East Peoria testing site, and Hendrickson urged the public to take advantage of expanded hours of the Peoria Civic Center testing site. Starting January 3, tests will be administered six days a week, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Civic Center.

“Hopefully that will assist our health care systems so they can focus at the task at hand, which is still trying to get people better, especially those that haven’t been vaccinated, which again makes up the primary population and the severity of illnesses they’re seeing in their (healthcare) systems,” Hendrickson said.

The Tri-Counties of Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford are part of Illinois’ Region 2, which has just 8.6% of intensive care unit beds available, said Hendrickson.

She reported 99 Tri-County residents are hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 64 a week ago.

Hendrickson reported the number of people isolating at home has doubled in the last week to 4,471 people.

“Hate to say it, but the numbers continue to be grim,” said Hendrickson.

“Last week, the Tri-Counties were averaging 326 new cases each day. We now average 4444,” she added.

According to Hendrickson, 17 more people in the Tri-Counties have died from illnesses related to COVID-19, raising the three counties’ death toll to 921 since the start of the pandemic.

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