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THIS WEEK: Why is there a local COVID-19 spike?

Health officials fear people ignore warnings

MOLINE, Ill. — It's a case of good news and bad news.

Statewide in Illinois, there is a flattening of COVID-19 cases which allowed that state to relax restrictions on residents.

"I am optimistic about the direction we're headed," said Illinois Public health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a conference call with the Quad City COVID-19 coalition.

But the bad news is that we enter the month of July with growing numbers in the Quad Cities.

"We continue to see very high numbers that we started to see last week for cases in the Quad Cities," said Ed Rivers, director of the Scott County Health Department.

The spike in Quad City COVID-19 positive cases started just before the end of June.  And in the days since, the numbers have fallen,but not to levels seen earlier in June.

And local health officials saying it's not a case of more testing.

It's caused by people ignoring health warnings.

"We've heard of reports of shoulder to shoulder patrons without masks in bars," said Rivers.

"There's a lot of evidence that people are going into lockdown in a sense on their own and I don't know if it's enough," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Louis Katz.

"And my big concern is those moron young adults, you know, the way we were in our 20's and 30's." 

"Businesses with employees who tested positive required to come into work, large gatherings at parties without deference to social distancing, business gatherings of large numbers of people in close quarters without masks," he said.

Watch our discussion with Quad City infectious disease specialist Dr. Louis Katz on a News 8 THIS WEEK EXTRA on Facebook at WQAD Jim Mertens.

But as local health officials fear the spike is just the beginning, there is no sign of it yet in area hospitals.

The rate of hospitalizations has stayed steady in Rock Island County.

"When we look at the people who would be admitted in the emergency room for COVID-like illness, again, no problem," said Dr. Ezike.  

"So things are looking good definitely in the county and the bigger region as well."

But the bigger concern is the mindset that COVID-19 risks are minimal, especially among people under 40.

"If you attend a party or a gathering with friends, just forget about the craziness for awhile," said Dr. Rivers.  

"Know that that gathering has risks no matter how harmless it may seem.  You could be carrying the coronavirus away with you and exposing each and every person you come in contact with."

Dr. Katz says masks are important, but social distancing is more important than it's ever been.

"Stay home with your family, don't go to places with crowds.  If you are out social distance six feet or more," he warned

"And masks!"

Watch News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens every Sunday at 10 a.m. on WQAD News 8.