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McLean County remains at low COVID level

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U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden's recent remark that "the pandemic is over."The White House said more than 5 million people received the new boosters by its own estimate that accounts for reporting lags in states.Health experts said it is too early to predict whether demand would match up with the 171 million doses of the new boosters the U.S. ordered for the fall."No one would go looking at our flu shot uptake at this point and be like, 'Oh, what a disaster,'" said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "If we start to see a large uptick in cases, I think we're going to see a lot of people getting the (new COVID) vaccine."SEE MORE: Doctors Are Still Hunting For The Cause Of Long COVID Brain FogA temporary shortage of Moderna vaccine caused some pharmacies to cancel appointments while encouraging people to reschedule for a Pfizer vaccine. The issue was expected to resolve as government regulators wrapped up an inspection and cleared batches of vaccine doses for distribution."I do expect this to pick up in the weeks ahead," said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. "We've been thinking and talking about this as an annual vaccine like the flu vaccine. Flu vaccine season picks up in late September and early October. We're just getting our education campaign going. So we expect to see, despite the fact that this was a strong start, we actually expect this to ramp up stronger."Some Americans who plan to get the shot, designed to target the most common Omicron strains, said they are waiting because they either had COVID-19 recently or another booster. They are following public health advice to wait several months to get the full benefit of their existing virus-fighting antibodies.Others are scheduling shots closer to holiday gatherings and winter months when respiratory viruses spread more easily.Retired hospital chaplain Jeanie Murphy, 69, of Shawnee, Kansas, plans to get the new booster in a couple of weeks after she has some minor knee surgery. Interest is high among her neighbors from what she sees on the Nextdoor app."There's quite a bit of discussion happening among people who are ready to make appointments," Murphy said. "I found that encouraging. For every one naysayer there will be 10 or 12 people who jump in and say, 'You're crazy. You just need to go get the shot.'"SEE MORE: Study: Pfizer COVID Treatment Pill Showed No Benefit To Younger AdultsPresident Biden later acknowledged criticism of his remark about the pandemic being over and clarified the pandemic is "not where it was." The initial comment didn't bother Murphy. She believes the disease has entered a steady state when "we'll get COVID shots in the fall the same as we do flu shots."Experts hope she's right, but are waiting to see what levels of infection winter brings. The summer ebb in case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths may be followed by another surge, Dowdy said.Dr. Anthony Fauci, asked Thursday by a panel of biodefense experts what still keeps him up at night, noted that half of vaccinated Americans never got an initial booster dose."We have a vulnerability in our population that will continue to have us in a mode of potential disruption of our social order," Fauci said. "I think that we have to do better as a nation."Some Americans who got the new shots said they are excited about the idea of targeting the vaccine to the variants circulating now."Give me all the science you can," said Jeff Westling, 30, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who got the new booster and a flu shot on Tuesday, one in each arm. He participates in the combat sport jujitsu, so wants to protect himself from infections that may come with close contact. "I have no issue trusting folks whose job it is to look at the evidence."Meanwhile, President Biden's pronouncement in a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast Sunday echoed through social media."We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over," President Biden said while walking through the Detroit auto show. "If you notice, no one's wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing."By Wednesday on Facebook, when a Kansas health department posted where residents could find the new booster shots, the first commenter remarked snidely:"But Biden says the pandemic is over."The president's statement, despite his attempts to clarify it, adds to public confusion, said Josh Michaud, associate director

BLOOMINGTON — McLean County remains at a low community level for COVID-19 for the third week in a row. 

The McLean County Health Department's Friday COVID update reported 171 new cases reported to the department since Sept. 16. That brings the total probable and confirmed cases to 59,940.

A plurality of the new cases in the past week, 38, were in people in their 20s, followed by 21 people in their 40s. 

The update did not include any new deaths, leaving the total at 395.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data places the county at "low" community level. At any level the CDC recommends increased caution for high-risk individuals and those who live with them. The agency also recommends everyone stay up to date on boosters.

Most area counties are also at low community level, though Ford County is at high and Tazewell is at medium, CDC data show.  

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The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 17,373 new cases statewide since Sept. 16. As of Thursday night, there were 1,069 people hospitalized with COVID in the state, including 147 in the ICU and 40 on ventilators. 

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The IDPH's vaccination data shows that 63.35% of McLean County is fully vaccinated and 67.63% have received at least one dose. 

So far more than 340,000 Illinois residents have received the bivalent booster vaccines that are designed to increase protection against the omicron variant, IDPH's Friday update said. 

MCHD is scheduling appointments for both the primary vaccines and the new bivalent vaccine meant to more specifically protect against the omicron variant. Adult vaccinations can be scheduled by calling 309-888-5435 and child vaccinations can be scheduled by calling 309-888-5455. 

MCHD also is offering free COVID-19 testing at the McLean County Customer Service Center, found in the parking lot on East Street at Front Street in downtown Bloomington. The site is right across the street from the McLean County Government building, and parking is free for up to two hours.

Testing clinics will be held there from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The latest health events in Central Illinois

Contact Connor Wood at (309)820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter:@connorkwood

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