More positive COVID-19 tests are coming back in Central Illinois - including the first confirmed cases in Stark and Mason counties.
In the Tri-County area, one new case in Peoria and two in Tazewell were reported Saturday, for a total of 26 confirmed cases. Public health officials warn the actual number of cases is far higher, but the scope isn't fully known due to the lack of testing capability.
At a press conference Friday, Peoria County Board chairman Andrew Rand said COVID-19 is going to be around for another month at least - and it's important for people to continue taking preventative measures seriously.
"We are seeing the numbers grow, just like we anticipated," he said. "And the biggest stick we have in the batting cage to hit back are these simple practices. Social distancing. Shelter at home."
And despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Gov. J.B. Pritzker recommending wearing cloth masks in public, Peoria City/County Health Department administrator Monica Hendrickson said that measure isn't a be-all, end-all protective measure.
She said other factors, like maintaining a social distance and good hygiene, are just as important.
"In totality, that is a correct response. Not necessarily just one and done by feeling if I put on a fabric mask, that's all I need for this response," Hendrickson said. "It's not. It's part of a larger, comprehensive approach to dealing with this virus."
Rand also said it's important to give essential workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, and other businesses a safe amount of social distance to keep them safe.
On Friday, a man in his 50s tested positive in Stark County, north of Peoria.
"Our staff is working to identify, investigate, and actively monitor individuals who were in close contact with the patient,” said Duane Stevens, administrator of the Henry and Stark County Health Department in a statement. “We understand this development causes heightened concern; however, the health and safety of our residents is our highest priority.”
Neighboring Henry County currently reports seven cases.
South of Tazewell County, the Mason District Hospital said a Mason County woman in her 40s screened for COVID-19 tested positive. She was in contact with a known COVID-19 case and is currently recovering at home in isolation.
There are now 10,357 reported COVID-19 cases in Illinois, and 243 deaths.
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