Pandemic reaches six-month mark: How the Quad Cities have responded

Local News

6 months ago, on March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump announced the United States was officially in a pandemic. Since then, just about every aspect of life has been changed in one way or another and Local 4 News has been with the Quad Cities the whole way.

“So the way to get this virus under control are the social distancing, wearing the mask, staying home when you’re sick and everything we’ve been talking about,” said Janet Hill, Rock Island County Health Department Chief Operating Officer.

Local 4’s Alliyah Sims even went through the drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Rock Island, to share with viewers what to expect if they get tested.

The overwhelming weight of the coronavirus and the new world it’s brought hasn’t been easy to take in stride. Luckily, community members have stepped up time and time again to help keep everyone safe.

Like the members of the Davenport Farmer’s Market, who collected surgical masks and fabric back in March, while also giving away kits so people could sew masks at their own home.

“We’ve got a huge need,” said Lorrie Beaman, Executive Director of Freight House Farmer’s Market. “All of the local hospitals, nursing homes and the community have all came to us and said ‘Yes, we need massive amounts. If this continues on we’re not going to have what we need.’ The masks that we’re making are able to sterilize, use and then re-sterilize.”

That’s just one example of the way people in the Quad Cities stepped up to help each other out. Take a look at some other stories that highlight the generosity and kindness displayed in our area during the pandemic.

Even with so many people pitching in and making a positive difference in the community, challenges facing people in the Quad Cities have been daunting.

The stay at home order in Illinois lasted in modified forms for two months, which health officials say helped coronavirus cases be as low as possible, but it also did a number on local businesses.

Local 4’s Chase Davis spoke with Jimmie Lee’s Bar and Grille in Port Byron, which like many others, had to make lots of cuts just to stay in business.

“I’m down to three people, myself, my daughter, and my cook,” said Diane Devoss, owner of Jimmie Lee’s Bar and Grille. “I’m not worried about closing yet, I have a loan through the bank that will help us get through this hard time.”

Although restaurants in Iowa had a quicker path to reopening, businesses still had to change on the fly to meet new health guidelines.

“A little notice would have helped,” said Cathy Diakogeorgiou, owner of Windmill Family Restaurant. “It wouldn’t be such a shock to those business owners who now have to figure out how to handle it.”

Even with all the obstacles facing local businesses, many of them found ways to continue to serve their community.

Local 4’s Ryan Risky visited Finn’s Grill back in April and May as they gave away hundreds of free meals and free ice cream.

“We’ve truly been blessed and we wanna continue to give back to those who are taking care of us and anybody that I see in need,” said Joe Ende, owner of Finn’s Grill. “I’m gonna do my best to reach out if I have the means to do it.”

Once summer started to fade, and more and more business began reopening to full capacity, the attention then turned to reopening schools.

The transition to this new way of education hasn’t been perfect. Whether students are going to in-person classes or are participating in remote learning, students and their parents have had to make adjustments.

“We don’t know how it’s going to go, or what to really do because it’s all brand new,” said Jessie Singer, a mother in Rock Island. “He (my son) wants that paper and pencil and teacher to help him with something. He does get frustrated with being online.”

Beyond the classroom, sports are trying to soldier on. While Illinois high school sports have been delayed, Iowa high school sports are already in their second season. With baseball and softball in the books, sports like volleyball and football take the center stage in Iowa.

“What I like for my team, was we got the chance to play the great game of football,” said Rusty VanWetzinga, head coach at Pleasant Valley High School. “Our governor got us in this position, our administration, to have this great game for these kids. I like it because they had an opportunity to have fun playing.”

It’s been a long six months, and the pandemic isn’t over yet. Cases continue to rise in the Quad Cities area, and tough times may very well lie ahead. Both Rock Island and Scott County’s Health Departments still recommend washing your hands, wearing a mask and maintaining six-feet of social distancing.

Following those guidelines, combined with the generous spirit the Quad Cities has shown through these last six months, should put our community in the best position possible to come out of this pandemic healthy, strong, and unified.

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