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Top Regional News: Peoria area sees 5 more COVID-19 deaths, more than 300 new cases

Galesburg Register-Mail
A stack of newspapers

The following stories are among today’s top news of central Illinois. 

Peoria area sees 5 more COVID-19 deaths, more than 300 new cases

PEORIA — Five more people have died due to a COVID-19 infection in the Tri-County area, health officials said on Friday.

Those deaths put the Tri-County area's total to 304 since March. Woodford County reported two deaths, a man and a woman, both in their 70s. Neither lived in a long-term care facility.

In Tazewell County, a woman in her 60s who lived at Lakeside Rehab and Healthcare in East Peoria died, as did a man in his 100s, who lived at Apostolic Christian Restmor in Morton. Both of those facilities are "currently experiencing an outbreak" which means the two locations have had active cases within the past month.

A third person died in Tazewell County. He was in his 70s and did not live in a long-term care facility.

Neither county reported any information about underlying health conditions that could have led to the people's deaths.

The area reported 316 new cases, bringing the Tri-County total to 21,527 since the pandemic began in March. Health officials have said that each number represents a unique person, regardless of how many tests they have taken. The health department reports that roughly 68.54% of those total cases have recovered. That would be about 14,755 people. Just shy of 30%, 29.5% or 6,350, are isolating at home.

Peoria County has 10,921 total cases, an increase of 140 within the past 24 hours. Across the river in Tazewell County, they reported an increase of 130, making their new total 8,370. Woodford County, the area's smallest by population added 46, making their pandemic total 2,296.

Check pjstar.com for more on this story.

Retired state trooper, Monmouth swim coach dies of COVID-19

MONMOUTH — Monmouth College swim coach Tom Burek died on the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 12, of complications of COVID-19. He was 62.

Burek, who resided at Lake Bracken in rural Galesburg, was the second-longest serving swim coach in Monmouth history. Before he was named the program's head coach and the college's director of aquatics in 2013, Burek spent two seasons as its assistant coach.

During Burek's tenure, members of Monmouth's men's and women's swim teams won 12 individual Midwest Conference titles and four times qualified for the NCAA Division III swimming and diving championships.

Monmouth swimmers earned 57 Midwest Conference academic all-conference awards under Burek, and three times his teams won College Swimming Coaches Association of America National Academic Team Awards. Rewriting the Monmouth record books became a habit for Burek's teams, which currently hold 37 men's and women's records.

A retired master sergeant, Burek served the Illinois State Police for 23 years. He also coached several swim clubs in the region and had assisted other college swim programs.

Check galesburg.com for more on this story.

Bradley University doctoral student dies from COVID-19

PEORIA — A Wisconsin woman, who was taking classes remotely at Bradley University to get her doctorate as a nurse practitioner, died last month after contracting the coronavirus.

Kelly Raether, 42, died after complications from COVID-19. She became exposed to the virus while responding to the emergency medical needs of an infected patient in Wisconsin.

Bradley flags will fly at half-staff for three days to honor her memory. For those interested, an online tribute wall is available to write condolences and to view Kelly's funeral service that took place on Dec. 5.

Raether was a 15-year member of her local fire department where she served as the EMT captain. Her passing was noted by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.

Check pjstar.com for more on this story.