Local health departments warn residents of COVID-19 dangers during holiday weekend

Local News

The Quad Cities COVID-19 Coalition says COVID-19 is “not taking the holiday weekend off” this year and warns residents to be safe when celebrating.

“Labor Day weekend usually means the last hurrah for summer. We fill the weekend with backyard cookouts with friends and family, Labor Day parades celebrating American workers and the Rock Island District full of Grand Prix go-kart drivers and fans. Not this year,” said Rock Island County Health Department Administrator Nita Ludwig. “We want all of those things, but we can’t let our guard down. We know what will happen if we do. After Memorial Day, we saw a spike in cases on both sides of the river that really hasn’t fallen. We saw an even bigger surge after the Fourth of July.”

The coalition is especially concerned about the holiday weekend causing an influx in cases after it was reported Friday that Rock Island County is one of four counties in the Local 4 News viewing area now at a “warning” level for COVID-19.

This news came the same day an additional COVID-19 death was reported, bringing the overall total to more than double what it was at the beginning of August.

“We know this is the last thing you wanted to hear before heading out for Labor Day weekend fun,” said Ludwig. “As much as we want to ignore COVID-19, we just can’t.”

Scott County Health Department Director Edward Rivers echoes Ludwig’s statements, adding how an increase in cases could impact local health systems and schools.

“We cannot afford to let Labor Day become a trampoline that propels our positive COVID-19 cases upward again,” said Rivers. “Our health care systems are stressed when an increase in cases leads to hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Our public health systems are stretched thin when the contact tracing load gets to 30-plus daily cases due to the time intensive interviews, and the subsequent close-contact follow-up calls that these cases generate. Our schools don’t need the added workload and stress that is generated when additional cases are found in families and, eventually, their facilities.”

Rivers says prevention starts with keeping Labor Day celebrations small and simple.

“We take a rain check for next year’s Labor Day. 2020 isn’t like any other year, and so the things we do in 2020 can’t be like what we’ve always done. We keep using our prevention tools,” said Rivers. “Keep distance between yourself and others. Whatever it takes, wear your mask. Stay home if you aren’t feeling well. Make smart decisions that won’t put parents, siblings, kids, school groups and social circles at risk of having to take a 14-day quarantine — or worse yet — to get sick. We are one community, and it takes each one of us to care for all of us.”

Ludwig says it’s still possible to have fun this weekend while keeping COVID-19 in mind. She recommends spending time outdoors, where the virus doesn’t spread as easily.

“Spend time walking or hiking in one of our region’s beautiful parks. Go for a ride along the river. Get takeout from your favorite restaurant, and wear your mask when you go to pick it up,” said Ludwig. “Find ways to have fun, but please do it with COVID-19 in mind. And, I’ll say it again, wear your mask, keep 6 feet between you and others and wash your hands.”

Ludwig adds that it’s important to take precautions beyond Labor Day weekend.

“Until we have a vaccine or an effective treatment, the virus calls the shots, holiday weekends and every day,” said Ludwig. “Please do your part to take care of our community so that, maybe next year, we can do all of the things that make summer in the Quad Cities great.”

Visit the Rock Island County Health Department and Scott County Health Department websites for more local information related to COVID-19.

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