Edward Rivers, Director, Scott County Health Department
We have seen an explosion of cases over the last week or so that has both our departments quite concerned. In Scott County, recent case counts have been 200 – 350 per day. By comparison, there were only 321 cases in the entire month of June.
People are spreading the virus to family members and close friends, and our investigators are told of gatherings without social distancing and masking. These numbers are what we would expect to happen when people aren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
This surge is challenging our ability to investigate cases in a beneficial timeframe. At Scott County, we made the decision to hire additional contact tracers when daily cases were closer to 120 per day. With the number of daily cases nearly tripling, we aren’t sure that plan is still viable. We are doing our best, but this surge is nearly unmanageable.
At 11am today, Iowa Governor Reynolds announced enhanced public health measures will go into effect Wednesday, November 11 at 12:01am. These measures are aimed at the high case counts and positivity rates currently taking place across the state. The measures will include:
We welcome these measures but require your help. We are asking all residents of our community to look deep and decide what more you can do. Distance. Wear your mask. Stay away from gatherings. Pay attention to your symptoms. And stay home and get tested if you have symptoms.
Nita Ludwig, Administrator, Rock Island County Health Department
We are pleased to hear of Iowa’s science-backed changes. In Illinois, we’ve followed the science all along with Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. That said, Illinois’ cases are raging, too. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced more than 10,000 new cases each of the last five (confirm) days in the state. In Rock Island County, we added more than 1,000 cases in November alone. Our positivity rate is an alarming 15 percent.
Right now, Rock Island County and the rest of Region 2 are in Tier 1 mitigation – meaning there is no inside dining or bar service and groups are limited to 25 or 25 percent of room capacity, whichever is smaller. On Wednesday, three more regions in the state for a total of four go into Tier 2 mitigations, meaning groups are restricted to 10 or fewer. The change from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is based on metrics, including positivity rate. Our region is barreling toward Tier 2 status and likely will be there next week.
If positivity rates don’t come down over two weeks of Tier 2 mitigations, a region would surge into Tier 3 mitigations. Those include suspending in-store shopping at non-essential retailers and indoor and outdoor recreational activities. These mitigations should sound similar because this is what we lived under in March, April and May.
And in another callback to earlier in the pandemic, just Monday Gov. Pritzker indicated that he might issue another stay-at-home order. The order went into effect March 21 and was lifted May 29. The stay-at-home order worked. When it ended, the state regularly added just a few hundred cases a day. During this time, Rock Island County reported zero cases a few days.
Again, we reported 131 cases today and more than 1,000 this month. We are teetering on a point of new return. Science must lead us, but you must follow what it says.