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Peoria’s many problems

Friday, Apr 16, 2021

* Peoria Journal Star

It’s likely further COVID-19 mitigations will be imposed in the next few weeks as metrics continue to trend in the wrong direction, but health officials on Thursday were still trying to determine what exactly that will mean.

Will restaurants be shut down? Will organized sports be halted?

“We are waiting for IDPH to get some more clarification on that,” said Monica Hendrickson, administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department. “There is a likelihood that mitigations will come in. Will it look like what we saw in the fall? Not necessarily. We have to recognize that we are living in a different environment where vaccine availability does exist.”

Local mitigations will be based on the metrics, which are very different from when Illinois’ COVID-19 plan was created, said Hendrickson.

“When the mitigation plans were first put forward in the fall, we were in a landscape where vaccines did not exist. Now it looks considerably different, and we are also looking at a different population that is being impacted,” she said.

Peoria is in Region 2. Its latest available average test positivity rate was 7.6 percent. Counties within the region

Bureau: 6.9%
Fulton: 6.6%
Grundy: 6.7% (with the latest one-day positivity rate of 17.3 percent)
Henderson: 0.7% (hardly anyone tested)
Henry: 6.2%
Kendall: 8.8%
Knox: 3.1%
LaSalle: 5%
Livingston: 3.4% (with a recent one-day positivity rate of 13.6 percent)
Marshall: 5.8%
McDonough: 3.8%
McLean: 5.9%
Mercer: 5.9%
Peoria: 12.8%
Putnam: 4.1% (very few tests)
Rock Island: 5.1% (two days in past week at 9 or above)
Stark: 17.6% (very few tests)
Tazewell: 10.9% (eight days this month in double digits)
Warren: 3.1%
Woodford: 8.6%

* Meanwhile

Peoria residents facing financial hardships from COVID-19 are receiving a helping hand from the local government to help them pay their electric, gas, and water bills.

The city council Tuesday night agreed to shift Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars to set up a utility assistance program.

The city is making almost $302,000 available. The maximum grant is $5,000 per household for up to six months of utility assistance.

Eligible applicants must prove they’ve been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and their bills must be overdue.

* But the Washington Post published a story this week about federal aid not reaching people in Peoria

Today, the federal government is in the midst of one of the biggest expansions of the social safety net in U.S. history, committing $5 trillion over the last year to keeping American families afloat. President Biden predicted the flood of aid could cut child poverty in half.

And yet for all its successes, the trillions in aid have often failed to reach the poorest Americans in places like the south end of Peoria. Because many in Shawna’s neighborhood have jobs that paid them in cash and because they didn’t report their income to the government, they were unable to qualify for unemployment insurance. Because they moved frequently, failed to file taxes or owed fines for back child support or past criminal activity, they often didn’t receive their full stimulus checks.

As the pandemic dragged on month after month, hundreds struggled simply to keep the lights on. Last fall, 5.4 percent of all residences in Shawna’s 61605 Zip code — about 300 houses — were cut off for failing to pay their power bill. Another 250 houses in a neighboring Zip code — or about 4 percent of all residences — also lost power.

The disconnections, which were reported to the state government by private utilities, should have been a flashing red light that the social safety net was missing Peoria’s poorest.

And yet the cutoffs throughout Peoria’s south end went largely unnoticed. Local charities with money to help with power bills reported no surge in requests for assistance. City officials speculated that the disconnection statistics must be wrong. “They don’t seem real,” said Ross Black, Peoria’s community development director. “We get calls any time someone loses power. … Our phones would have been ringing off the hook.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 10:45 am:

    === We have to recognize that we are living in a different environment where vaccine availability does exist. ===

    Agreed. The smart, sensible, reasonable thing to do is bite the bullet and require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, bars, gyms, movie theatres, etc.

    The hybrid model is not working, because it’s not enforceable.

    The governor needs to lead on this.

  2. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 10:47 am:

    My parents live in the Peoria area and when I visit and go into town masks and social distancing is simply optional. Signs are everywhere complaining about Pritzker’s efforts to stop the disease. Not surprised their numbers are going in the wrong direction.

  3. - Sonny - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 10:48 am:

    Pay people eligible for certain benefits, WIC or utility subsidies, whatever, to get vaccinated. State and federal government needs to continue to drive these numbers when they slow down. Whatever the expense, the cost of taking care of sick people or families who lose people is more.

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 10:51 am:

    ===Pay people eligible for certain benefits, WIC or utility subsidies, whatever, to get vaccinated===

    Vaxing people takes weeks to show results. And that’s weeks the area does not have.

  5. - ex-Peorian - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    people receiving WIC and utility subsidies are NOT the people refusing vaccines and refusing to mask in Peoria

  6. - Chris - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 11:14 am:

    Well that is screamingly not a surprise.

    I had to head down to Peoria for a family emergency in late December. I was coming from somewhere with *very* strict lockdown rules, and it was a shock to go to a…certain gym that I shall not snitch on…and have them just laugh at me when I asked about appointments to prevent overcrowding, which is what I was used to.

    And not a person wore a mask. I got looked at like a freak for wearing a mask during my workout, and then I headed elsewhere. And I saw restaurants and bars that had a suspicious number of cars in the parking lot for that lockdown level…

  7. - JS Mill - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 11:15 am:

    And yet there are still people who won’t wear a mask, get vaxxed, or generally give a darn about their fellow man.

  8. - cermak_rd - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 11:43 am:

    While it’s true that vaccinations take time the region does not have, it still would start a motion where everyone knows there is a time border to the mitigations (assuming enough people get vacced). If they didn’t follow mitigations last time they won’t this time. Maybe a better answer in that region, given the weather outlook is the take it outside approach. So want to be with your friends, well have an evening at the park or the lake, want to exercise? Take a bike ride or run or walk through your neighborhood, want to dine out? Go for a picnic instead (maybe with carryout food).

  9. - Magic Dragon - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 11:46 am:

    It makes absolutely no sense to halt organized sports that have now all moved to outdoor seasons. Let these kids play baseball, softball, soccer, etc. They already lost one season. Lets hope we don’t go down that crazy path again.

  10. - Huh? - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    “require proof of vaccination”

    A vaccination passport.

    Unfortunately, antimaskers and antivaxers will be complaining that their rights are being violated when they are not allowed into the venue of their choice.

  11. - JS Mill - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 12:24 pm:

    =It makes absolutely no sense to halt organized sports that have now all moved to outdoor seasons. Let these kids play baseball, softball, soccer, etc. They already lost one season. Lets hope we don’t go down that crazy path again.=

    First, the only thing “crazy” is prioritizing sports over life.

    Once we went back to sports that wasn’t enough. We then had to deal with the irrational parents who demanded that we allow spectators. They brow beat the generally spineless IHSA and the IDPH to get that expended so they could sit in the stands and yell at the officials and fight with us over wearing a mask.

    Sports can be put on hold if need be. Parents need to wake up.

  12. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 1:55 pm:

    I am resisting the urge to build a spreadsheet showing county level 2020 general election results alongside current COVID-19 statistics in order to test a hypothesis.

  13. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 1:57 pm:

    ===First, the only thing “crazy” is prioritizing sports over life.===

    Another hypothesis, but one I’d have a much harder time testing, is that 2020 was the best year that the ACL and LCL ligaments in people under 18 have had in decades.

  14. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 2:09 pm:

    Candy, I don’t need a spreadsheet to know how malinformed (malinformed should be a word) my neighbors are. It’s really a rare thing right now to be rural and thoughtful at the same time. Everything that happens in the news cycle creates such a knee jerk reaction with people.

  15. - cermak_rd - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 2:20 pm:


    Why? When did this change? I grew up in central IL around the Mattoon, Charleston area. The folks may not have much cared for city folk but they had their own self-preservation at heart and encouraged their children to seek the cities as a place to be successful (at that time de-industrialization was just getting its legs and the writing was on the walls of the closed factories).

  16. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Apr 16, 21 @ 2:39 pm:

    75% of those over 65 in Peoria County are fully vaccinated. That’s a very good number.

    But only 23% of those 16-64 are fully vaccinated in the county - that trails the very best counties that are above 30%.

    I really think the Gov’s office and IDPH really don’t want to roll a region backward. Not even sure at this point it would do any good. It’s fingers crossed time when the rate of fully vaccinated people finally takes the r-naught below 1.

    @Candy - Adams County would blow your hypothesis.

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