‘Help us end this’: wear mask, get vaccinated, boosted

Quad Cities hospital beds and ICUs are full, ventilators and staff are running short, and critically ill patients are waiting hours to be admitted or transferred due to rising cases of COVID-19.

A Quad Cities coalition of health-care providers issued these dire warnings and more in a joint letter released over the weekend about the latest COVID-19 spike challenging the community’s health-care system.

“COVID-19 cases are the highest level they have been at since the survey in November 2020,” said the document signed by presidents, CEOs and chief medical officers for Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health Trinity. It also was signed by Scott and Rock Island County health department administrators and medical directors, and the CEO and chief medical officer of Community Health Care.

In addition to being at capacity with beds and delays in providing critical care to patients, including some on ventilators, the bistate COVID-19 health care coalition members wrote, “Our staff are overwhelmed and there aren’t enough of them.”

As a result, the letter said,  “We fear not having the capacity to care for your family members… your father’s heart attack, your son’s injury, or your grandmother’s pneumonia. We fear not having the capacity to care for OUR family members.”

The QC medical leaders’ letter comes as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 seven-day data tracker warned that transmission rates were “High” in Rock Island, Mercer and Henry counties in Illinois. At the same time, the CDC numbers show that 60.9% of Rock Island County residents age 5 and older were reported as vaccinated. In Mercer County, the vaccination rate for those age 5 and over was 59.3%. In Henry County it was 59.9%.

The community transmission rates for Quad Cities counties located in Iowa also were rated as “High” during that same period, the CDC said. Meanwhile vaccination rates for Quad Cities Iowa counties were Clinton, 54.8%; Muscatine, 61.4%; and Scott, 60.5%.

The latest surge also comes as new cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are being reported in Iowa and Illinois. 

As of Dec. 17, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 16 cases of the Omicron variant in Illinois.  On Dec. 9, the The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the State Hygienic Lab (SHL) confirmed the state’s first case of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron. The case involves an unvaccinated individual under the age of 18 who resides in Black Hawk County. 

Medical personnel here and in all 50 states are urging Americans to get booster shots to help slow the spread of this less deadly but more easily transmitted COVID-19 variant.

“There is emerging evidence that a booster dose of vaccine offers protection against Omicron, which is great news. Vaccinated Iowans who have not yet received a booster should do so as soon as possible,” said IDPH interim Director Kelly Garcia. “I want to emphasize how grateful I am to Iowans who have chosen to get vaccinated, thank you. To those who haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 yet, I urge you to speak with your health-care provider about the vaccine’s benefits for you and those around you.”

Decreasing transmissions and increasing immunization rates are key to addressing the crisis, the coalition of Quad-Cities public health leaders said. 

“We need you to mask in indoor public places, even if you are vaccinated. Especially if you are not,” they wrote in the letter circulated Sunday. 

“We need you to GET VACCINATED. Almost all of our COVID-19 in-patients are unvaccinated.”

Testing also is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19, they said. “We need you to get tested if you’re having symptoms – and do it early,” the letter said. “It’s harder to care for you later in your illness. Use a convenient care or your physician’s office. Don’t come to the emergency department unless it’s a true emergency. “

The letter concluded:

“We need you to stay home if you test positive to keep from infecting others … others who could end up in our hospitals.” 

“We need you to care. And to help us end this.”

Illinoisans can find COVID-19 vaccine providers here.

Iowans can find COVID-19 vaccine providers here.


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