PEORIA — The good news is there weren’t any new COVID-19 positive tests diagnosed in Peoria County in the last 24 hours.

The bad news is an urgent message from Peoria City/County Health Department administrator Monica Hendrickson.

“We no longer should be thinking of whether or not we have been exposed, but ... that we have been exposed, and what we are going to do to eliminate or slow down that transmission,” she said during the daily news conference at the health department. “This is a huge transition in our mindset as a community.”

While there were no new individuals who tested positive in the Tri-County Area within the last 24 hours, 128 new positive tests for the COVID-19 virus were confirmed in Illinois, including 20 people in a long-term care facility in DuPage County. Everyone, including those at a low risk for developing serious symptoms from the disease, should be aware that their action or inaction could have a tremendous effect on the at-risk populations in their community, Hendrickson said.

“Based on that understanding, low risk, or the general public, should be following the same criteria — that social distancing, self monitoring, even at home, understanding that if you are sick, you should stay home,” she said. “Monitor your symptoms, try to make sure you are really going out for the most essential need.”

The shortage of tests is a problem that seems to be getting worse. Health department and area health care administrators are putting in place even more stringent requirements patients must meet before being tested.

“We want everyone to be aware that we want people to be tested, we just do not have the capability of doing that,” said Dr. Lori Racsa, medical director of UnityPoint Health’s microbiology lab. “This is not a UnityPoint issue, it is not an OSF issue, it is a national issue that is being faced by many, many other patients and we are very gravely concerned. We will be coming out with stricter criteria, working with Monica to make sure that everyone who should be getting this test will be getting this test so they will be treated appropriately.”

Patients at higher risk for becoming gravely ill from COVID-19 are more likely to be tested, said Hendrickson.

“We have to make sure we prioritize testing ... The reason why is if an individual is in their 30s or younger, in very good health, and is diagnosed with COVID-19, their care is not any different whether or not they are tested. We’re gonna still require people to stay home, self-medicate with a fever-reducing medication, and stay hydrated.”

Older people and those with serious medical conditions would be treated more aggressively, so knowing they have COVID-19 is more imperative.

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.