Some people are waiting up to three hours for a COVID-19 test at Bloomington’s community-based testing site, amid huge demand following the Christmas holiday.
Average wait times at the Interstate Center testing site, run by Reditus Labs, are one to two hours, although they’ve been as long as three hours this week, according to a company spokesperson. The testing site is now open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week (Monday-Saturday), up from four days.
Reditus is expecting to increase staffing at the site to meet the demand, the Reditus spokesperson said. Pre-registering at TestDirectly.com can make the process go quicker.
The site tested 807 people on Monday and another 504 on Tuesday. Long lines were again reported Wednesday.
The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) is urging more people to get tested, ideally 5-7 days after an exposure, even if they have no symptoms. But that plea comes as testing options in Bloomington-Normal are limited. The SHIELD testing sites at Heartland Community College and Illinois State University are closed for the holidays. They reopen Jan. 3. Some have reported challenges finding at-home, store-bought testing kits in Bloomington-Normal.
New record for positivity rate and active cases
Meanwhile, new data from the McLean County Health Department show COVID-19 is the most widespread it’s been since the start of the pandemic.
McLean County’s testing positivity rate rose to 16.3%, a new record. The previous record was 14.9%, set on Nov. 17, 2020, during the previous largest spike in cases.
There are 1,953 active cases in McLean County as of Wednesday (hospitalized people and those isolating at home). That broke the record set on Tuesday (1,602 cases).
People in their 20s registered the most cases over the past week (24% of all cases), followed by children up to age 17 (21% of cases), according to MCHD data.
Hospitalizations continue to put pressure on the Bloomington-Normal health care system. There are 48 people hospitalized in Bloomington-Normal’s two hospitals; there are 25 at Carle BroMenn Medical Center and 23 at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center.
88% of ICU beds are occupied in Bloomington-Normal, and 95% of hospital beds overall.
The vast majority of COVID hospitalizations at Carle and OSF hospitals are unvaccinated people. The hospitals have pleaded with people to get vaccinated, citing strain on their staffs.
Four more COVID-related deaths in McLean County were reported Wednesday. They were two men (one in his 50s, another in his 70s), and two women in their 60s. One of the women was in long-term care. The death toll for McLean County is now 304 since the start of the pandemic.
Vaccines are widely available in Bloomington-Normal, although vaccination efforts appear to have hit a wall in recent months. Only 58.2% of McLean County residents are fully vaccinated.