ROCK ISLAND COUNTY, Ill. — A recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations has Quad Cities health leaders urging caution.
Members of the Quad Cities COVID-19 Coalition pulled together up-to-date information and shared their findings Wednesday, Dec. 8 during a Zoom conference.
Dr. Christopher Crome, Genesis Health Systems vice president of medical affairs, said he believes an increase in coronavirus cases is likely due to a number of different factors: a lack of masking and physical distancing indoors, large indoor gatherings and low vaccination rates in the community.
He also said hospitals are seeing many people who were exposed during Thanksgiving gatherings.
Crome added the rise in COVID-19 patients has had a "significant" impact on the census at all Genesis hospital campuses. He said on Tuesday, the ICU had 16 of 20 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, and 13 of them are on ventilators.
According to Crome, a "majority" of their hospitalized patients who test positive for the virus continue to be unvaccinated, with 15 of the 16 positive tests from Tuesday's reports not vaccinated.
"A lot of what happens in the next couple of weeks could be dependent on our on our community," Crome said. "How they respond and how they behave as far as wearing a mask and avoiding large groups and and if they're not vaccinated, get vaccinated."
Crome gave the following advice to prevent infection:
- If you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated.
- If you are vaccinated, get a booster.
- Wear a mask in public indoor spaces.
- Wash/sanitize your hands often.
- Practice physical distancing (at least 3-feet between you and another person) when you can.
- Stay home if you are ill and follow-up with your primary care provider as needed.
The newly discovered omicron strain was also discussed in the coalition's address. However, it referenced the Iowa Department of Public Health's report that said the predominate strain in the state remains delta.
In Illinois, Rock Island County Health Department Administrator Nikita Ludwig said a "majority" of people who are seriously ill or have died from the coronavirus have not been vaccinated.
Ludwig pulled 219 positive cases from the past weekend and found 181 of those tests came from people who were not vaccinated. Three of the patients were partially vaccinated (having one of the two-dose series), while 35 were vaccinated and two people had a booster shot.
Rock Island County has reported 17 total deaths from Nov. 1 through Dec. 6, with 11 of those cases coming from non-vaccinated individuals. Two were partially vaccinated, and four of the deaths were fully vaccinated, but had, "serious underlying health conditions," Ludwig said.
Scott County Health Department Director Amy Thoreson said she believes the virus is just something we have to live with at this point, but difficulties can be prevented if we are able to "change our actions" given the circumstances.
She explained cases were lower in previous months which gave many the opportunities for activities without much worry, but now an increase in numbers is more reason to take action.
"The case counts are high, hospital systems are strapped, and there is no immediate end in sight," Thoreson said. "We need to change our actions as we do for everything else we encounter. For this, it means masking, even if you’re fully vaccinated. It means getting tested when your symptoms feel just like a common cold or what you think it’s your allergies. It means staying home if you suspect any of these symptoms."