Record number of COVID cases spells trouble heading into Christmas

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill (NEXSTAR) — Joe Bolser has his whole family coming to Rantoul for Christmas.

“We got our I got four kids and two grandkids and a great, great grandchild.”

But after a massive spike in COVID cases following thanksgiving, Bolser decided he should go get tested before he sees his grandchildren.

“We do it quite often, just to make sure that we’re around a lot of people,” Bolser said. “So you don’t want to give it to anybody else. And you don’t sure don’t want to get it. So you test.”

Public health officials want everyone to be like Bolser.

Testing numbers are going up over the past few weeks, but case numbers are going up even faster.

“The week after thanksgiving, we had almost 15% of the total positives we’ve ever seen in the lifetime of our program occurred during that week.”

On Thursday, the state reported 11,858 cases — this year’s single day record for COVID cases. It’s the surge that started after Halloween, but started to get out of control after thanksgiving.

“The surge was not very big, but it was constant,” Awais Vaid with Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said. “And then after thanksgiving, we have seen a much bigger, bigger spike. That’s exactly what will happen if people don’t take the precautions.”

Testing facilities across the state — including SHIELD Illinois — are ramping up testing efforts ahead of the holidays.

“We want to make sure that people before and after they’re traveling are safe,” Andrew Greta, Senior Director of SHIELD Illinois, said. “And that we want to make sure that when you’re gathering with your family, that you’re keeping everybody safe as well.”

The hope is to find the COVID positives before they can gather for Christmas — and keep families like Bolser’s healthy.

“It’s concerning,” Bolser said. “You’ve got an awful lot of families getting together an awful lot of parties going on a lot of festivities, which is what we’re used to doing. And it scares you. So you have to protect yourself. And when you are doing this you are also protecting others.”

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