It’s been about a year since the first COVID-19 vaccines were distributed. Despite this milestone, health-care workers say the pandemic is more aggressive than ever, surging through the Quad Cities community.

“A year later we’re still living in that shadowy time before the sun fully rises.” Rock Island County Health Department Chief Operating Officer Janet Hill said.

With the vaccine available to anyone ages 5 years and older, local health-care officials express disappointment over low vaccine rates. They say this recent surge in cases could have been prevented. Currently, COVID-19 patients occupy about 80% of the beds in Genesis Health System’s Intensive Care Unit. The health system’s chief medical officer warns of an alarming statistic regarding those COVID-19 patients.

“Ninety percent are unvaccinated.” Dr. Kurt Andersen said.

UnityPoint Trinity Health Center expresses nearly identical concerns.

“I’ll be honest. We’ve had an open-heart surgery postponed recently because of the bed situation. These are the major urgencies – lung cancer patients – that need surgery that we’ve had to sometimes delay.” UnityPoint Trinity’s Chief Medical Officer Toyosi Timi Olutade said.

Medical professionals and public-health officials emphasize this surge was preventable. And it is still possible to deter its further expansion. But members of the community must make a choice.

“It is up to each resident to make a choice to be part of solution or, unfortunately, part of the problem,” a representative from the Scott County Health Department said.