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CHAMPAIGN — Active COVID-19 cases in Champaign County are at their highest level since early May, as the highly infectious delta variant circulates among the unvaccinated and more people stop wearing face masks, local public-health officials said.

The county had 215 active cases Thursday — 52 more than the previous day and nearly double the number of active cases as Saturday, when there were 109.

Hospitalizations among county residents with COVID-19 have also steadily risen all week, with eight hospitalized Thursday — compared with three at the start of the week.

“Basically, what we’ve got is what we’ve had all summer — it’s unvaccinated people acting like they’re vaccinated,” said Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde.

The guidance for those who are unvaccinated has been to continue wearing masks, but many haven’t, she said.

Awais Vaid, deputy administrator at the health district, said there have been seven known delta-variant cases in the county, “but I don’t believe it’s only seven.”

That’s based on the delta variant now accounting for 80 percent of new cases nationally and the speed at which new cases are escalating in the community, he and Pryde said.

“The delta is so much more infectious,” Pryde said. “Unvaccinated people who managed to avoid it before, they’re not going to this time.”

Vaid said Champaign County began averaging about 20 new cases a day starting Saturday.

According to health district data, the county added 61 new cases Thursday, boosting the county’s total to date to 21,449.

Helping fuel increases have been new outbreaks at local long-term-care facilities, where outbreaks of two or more cases had stopped, Vaid said.

Also a factor are some case clusters in Rantoul and a small cluster in Mahomet, along with some cases among University of Illinois staff and children under age 12, he said.

The highest number of active cases in the county is in Urbana’s 61802 ZIP code, with 31.

As of Thursday, 48.8 percent of county residents have been fully vaccinated.

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