PEORIA - A fourth resident of the Tri-County area has died from COVID-19.


“Tazewell County reported a death this morning of a male in his 80s,” said Monica Hendrickson, administrator of the Peoria City County Health Department during the daily press conference Monday.


Over the weekend a COVID-19 death was reported by an area hospital, a woman in her 50s who was not a resident of the Tri-county area and therefore not included in the tally of cases. She was visiting from Cook county when she became ill, Hendrickson said.


To date there are 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Tri-County region, 31 in Peoria County, 19 in Tazewell County, and 9 in Woodford County.


In area hospitals COVID-19 patients, both suspected and confirmed, are using 22 beds in the intensive care units, and 30 non-ICU beds, said Hendrickson.


In Peoria County 68 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases are female, a fact which Hendrickson attributed to the fact that a lot of testing is being done in area nursing homes with predominantly female populations. But the elderly are not the only Tri-County residents affected by COVID-19 - people under 50 make up 58 percent of confirmed cases, said Hendrickson.


“We do now have cases reported for ages from 20 to 99,” said Hendrickson. “By race 58 percent of our cases are white, and 26 percent of our cases are black.”


In Illinois and in other states people of color have made up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 fatalities. Though African Americans make up less than 15 percent of Illinois’ population, 42 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state have happened to people of color, said Dr. Rahmat Na’Allah, professor of clinical family medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria and a Peoria County Board of Health Member.


Na’Allah attributed the startling statistic to health disparities which have affected impoverished communities for many years. Due to lack of access to quality healthcare certain cronic health conditions are typically not well managed in minority populations.


“We suffer disproportionately from sugar diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, and obesity. People with these diseases tend to die more from the virus,” she said.


In Peoria’s impoverished neighborhoods people tend to live more closely together - young people are more likely to be living with their parents and grandparents. This makes quarantine more difficult. And people in those neighborhoods are more likely to be working jobs which put them a higher risk of exposure, said Na’Allah.


“We know that coronavirus does not discriminate, but because of all that I've talked about, minority people are dying more.”


Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.