COVID related deaths up 20% in Peoria County

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:51 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) - Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says COVID is taking more lives in the new year than at this time last year.

Harwood says from Jan. 1 through Jan.14 of last year, Peoria County saw 166 COVID related deaths.

He said during the same time this year, they’ve tracked 204 COVID related deaths, a 20% jump.

In addition to this, Hardwood said the county is averaging about 15 deaths a day, up from eight to 10 deaths per day, during this same stretch, in 2021.

“Right now, we’re averaging 14.9 deaths a day, so we can say 15 deaths a day is what’s getting reported to our office,” Harwood said.

“That load’s heavy. That’s load’s extremely heavy compared to where we were last year,” he added.

At one point during the pandemic, COVID deaths around the country were so high, some hospitals had to put bodies in mobile morgue freezers, including ones in Peoria.

Harwood tells me we’re not quite at that point in 2022, but he says the county is on the brink with the latest COVID related death rates.

He says most of the people dying, from impatient to residential, are unvaccinated.

“Is it COVID or is it COVID related? And we’re seeing both,” Harwood said.

“Unfortunately, it’s unvaccinated people who are dying far more than the people who are vaccinated,” he said.

OSF Healthcare Pulmonologist Jared Meeker says he’s seen a spike in COVID-pneumonia patients in the ICU.

Meeker said the omicron variant is driving these numbers over the last two weeks and when you add pneumonia, it makes recovering difficult.

“That’s inflammation, protein to breathe, fluid filling up the lungs,” Meeker said.

“That makes it really difficult to breathe and people can get really critically ill,” he added.

Meeker said the last ten death certificates he’s filled out, about 8 of them stem from COVID-19 and pneumonia.

“I think the spike will probably get bigger before it gets smaller,” Meeker said.

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