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Surging COVID-19 case counts are continuing this week, with Vermilion County’s 247th death also recorded.

Health officials reported that from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday, there were 409 new cases of COVID-19 recorded locally.

In the last two weeks, there have been 3,034 new cases recorded by the health department.

The total case count since the pandemic began in March 2020 is 22,207.

There are currently 41 county residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

The latest surge is taking its toll on the health care and medical community.

Local health officials, in a statement released on Wednesday, reported that the volume of new COVID-19 cases is higher than the staff of the health department — and the staffs at most local health departments across the state — can properly manage.

Months ago, the Illinois Department of Public Health hired its own COVID-19 contact tracers — known as the Surge Center — to assist local health departments that were struggling to keep up with new cases. Starting Thursday, the Surge Center will take over primary responsibilities for COVID-19 contact tracing in Illinois, and local health departments will focus on COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate-living facilities.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 should receive a text message from the state, instructing them to call 1-312-777-1999 to be screened by a Surge Center contact tracer, to find out their release-from-isolation date, and to have a release letter sent to them. Those who test positive for COVID and who do not receive a text message from the state can still call 1-312-777-1999 to “opt-in” to the system and receive a release date and a letter. Those who test positive for COVID-19 and do not call will be considered to have “opted-out” of the contact-tracing process, will have their cases auto-closed after a few days, and will not receive a release letter.

The health department stated that when a person tests positive for COVID-19 (regardless of vaccination status) — whether they “opt-in” and are screened by a contact tracer, or they “opt-out” and do not call — they must isolate at home for at least five days from the onset of symptoms or from the date of testing (whichever came first), and then are released from isolation on day six if symptoms have resolved or are mild.

While there continue to be breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in which the infected person reports being fully vaccinated, the vast majority of cases are with people who are not vaccinated, health officials said.

Vermilion County’s current vaccination rate remains among the lowest in the state at 40.53% of the population. That’s the lowest of all surrounding counties in Illinois. Illinois’ overall vaccination rate is 61.17%.

Health officials say there are local opportunities to receive COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

On Saturday, there will be a vaccine clinic Mark Denman Elementary School, 930 Colfax St., Danville, Jan. 15, from 1-4 p.m., with vaccines for 5-11 and Pfizer for 12+, Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J available. Boosters are available as well. This is a state clinic.

Also scheduled:

— Oakwood Public Library, 110 E. Finley Ave., Oakwood, Jan. 15, 8 a.m.-noon, Pfizer for 12+, Moderna and J&J, and boosters will be available at this state clinic.

At Carle, call for an appointment or go online for booster vaccines.

OSF has vaccines for children 5 and up. Go to www.osfmychart.org to make an appointment.

At local pharmacies, make appointments online and check to see if they have the vaccine you need.

There are COVID-19 testing clinics at the health department on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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