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'Flattening the curve': How you can protect yourself and the QC from COVID-19

A group aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus in the Quad Cities came together to share pertinent information with the community on Friday, March 13.

A group aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus in the Quad Cities came together to share pertinent information with the community on Friday, March 13.

The “QC COVID-19 Coalition,” which is made up of medical professionals and community leaders, said their main goal is to slow the spread of the coronavirus so they don’t overwhelm healthcare workers and the medical resources available.

Flatten the Curve

It’s something called “flattening the curve,” explained Nita Ludwig, administrator of the Rock Island County Health Department. It’s a method of slowing down the spread of diagnoses that are quickly rising.

“Because this is a new virus that no one has any immunity to, we do expect cases in the Quad Cities,” she said. “We could possibly see a large number of cases.”

When a lot of people get sick all at once, it puts strain on the medical resources.  The coalition is looking to “flatten the curve” so not everybody has to go to the doctor all at the same time, allowing healthcare professionals to better use their supplies, equipment and staff.

“There are no known cases of COVID-19 in the Quad Cities at this time,” said Ed Rivers, Director of the Scott County Health Department. “However, it’s likely that there will be.” 

That’s why he said the coalition put together a set of recommendations on how the Quad Cities can help “flatten the curve.”

  • Consider avoiding social gatherings or community events where you can’t keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others.  Organizations have been urged to cancel or postpone social gatherings that would bring 250 people or more to one place.
  • If you have COVID symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, call ahead to your medical provider.  This heads up allows them to prepare for your visit and protect others in the facility.
  • Stay home if you’re sick. Local employers are encouraged to implement flexible sick leave policies.
  • If you’re considering travel, monitor the spread of COVID-19 at your destination and along your route. If it’s spreading at your destination you are putting yourself at a higher risk of exposure.

Rivers also gave six recommendations you can take to protect yourself from getting COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid close contact with other people
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect, doorknobs, light switches, table tops, chair arms
  • Make sure you have enough medical supplies if you require it

Rivers added that older adults who have chronic diseases are the most susceptible to the coronavirus.  He advised they take extra precautions and considerations when planning on traveling.

How you can help hospitals

Area health care leaders explained how hospitals and medical facilities in the Quad Cities are prepared to handle patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.  

Collectively, they reiterated the message to call ahead to your medical provider if you’re coming in for treatment and are showing symptoms of coronavirus. 

Lisa Caffery, the infection prevention coordinator at Genesis Health System, said the number one thing people can do to help is to abide by medical facilities’ visitor restrictions.

“It is really important that we minimize the number of people in our facilities,” she said.

Additionally, those who are tested for COVID-19 and are told to stay home need to remain home until the results are back.

School closing strategies

School closings for K-12 students are being discussed, said Rivers. Due to the fact that we're in spring break season, school leaders have more time to develop a plan for any potential school cancellations. 

"Their prerogatives are different, say from universities," said Rivers.  "If you cancel schools K-12 you're also pulling people out of the workforce."

Rivers said they would be working with area superintendents to develop strategies, and planned to meet Friday afternoon. 

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