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Number of active COVID-19 cases continue decline locally

With Christmas eight days away, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in The Sentinel area continues to decline. As of today between the six villages there are 81 active cases, which is just two cases shy of the four-week low of 79 on December 7.

Decembe 17 Covid report The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 8,828 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus in the state, including 181 additional deaths. One of the decease was a female patient from Champaign County in her 70s. As of Wednesday evening, 4,751 Illinoisans were reported hospitalized. Of those, 1,056 patients were in the ICU and 575 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Area residents are relieve to see the positivity decline. As of Thursday morning, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District was reporting three cases in Ogden, Philo and Sidney with 4 each and no reported cases in Royal. In the low 50s much of the past week, St. Joseph is down to 46 cases and Tolono has 24 in the are covered by the 61880 zip code.

"I do think it’s positive to see so many people willing to wear a mask to try and help slow the spread though," said Kendra Pence, of St. Joseph. "I know many don’t necessarily like the masks or believe they totally help, but I think they are helpful and I’m thankful and feel more comfortable when I see people wearing them. In many counties around us, you don’t see a lot of masks, so it is refreshing to see people here willing to try and do their part to slow this thing down!"

Overall, the average statewide positivity rate is down to 8.4%, which is more good news considering some parts of the country are experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases. Weeks before Thanksgiving on November 13 that number was at an alarming 13.2%.

"I think we’re seeing the decrease in positivity rates because there are more people staying home with the current restrictions and as they do venture out they are wearing masks," says Brian Booher, of Tolono. "I hope we can continue to decline and allow for some of these restrictions to be relaxed more, especially as a vaccine has been released and people in the area are getting it."

Three of the state’s 11 regions are already below the criteria initially set by Governor J.B. Pritzker to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, which would bring back indoor dining and allowing bars to operate with restrictions again.

Susan McDonald Santiago, from St. Joseph, thinks there are several reasons why the number of cases is shrinking. She narrowed it down to three.

"It comes down to people taking it seriously and caring about their community," Santiago said. "Knowing this is short term and having modern technology also helps."

Mike Tankersley, from St. Joseph, said he is not really sure why our region is doing better.

"I think maybe we’re just being a bit more careful recently given the dire warnings of what the winter months might bring."

Meanwhile, Abby Schopp, owner of For Love of Hair, people are doing what it takes to spend the holidays with loved ones. She believes surge came before Thanksgiving.

"My personal opinion is because we had our surge right after Halloween when it started getting cooler," she said. She noted that many people were very cautious or still in quarantine for Thanksgiving and most of her clients we being incredibly safe and practicing as many COVID friendly habits as they possibly could. "We had such a huge amount of canceled and rescheduled appointments in the beginning of November and shortly after Thanksgiving.

"We have also had many people push their December appointments back to January in an attempt to isolate so they can safely see their families for Christmas celebrations. People really are trying their best and I optimistically hope that's why we didn't have a Thanksgiving surge."

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