Last week, the Quad Cities entered week three of an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Cases have continued to rise since then, particularly in Scott County.

According to Linda Frederiksen, Executive Director of Medic EMS in Scott County, it’s not just positive COVID-19 cases that are growing on the Iowa side.

“We launched the pandemic protocol at our dispatch center in mid-March, and we have always screened callers for signs of any respiratory or any type of fever-related illness so we can alert our EMS and providers and fire departments of the needs to take additional personal protective precautions. We’ve done that since 2008,” said Frederiksen during Scott County Health Department’s COVID-19 press briefing Thursday afternoon. “We changed to something called the ‘pandemic protocol’ in mid-March, and we initially saw some increases in what we’re calling ‘isolation alerts.'”

Frederiksen says, since March 1, a total of 980 isolation alerts have been called by Medic EMS’s dispatch center. She adds 66 of those isolation alerts are patients that have tested positive for COVID-19, and 22 of those patients (33%) have been transported in the first 15 days of July.

“This is definitely noteworthy because we’ve done a higher percentage of ambulance transports the first 15 days of July than in any other full month,” said Frederiksen. “If we keep this pace up for July and do an additional 22 transports, that will bring July’s total to 44 transports, which would be 50% of overall transports (projected at 88%) since March 1. This is not the direction we were hoping for.”

Frederiksen and Medic EMS attribute the recent number of COVID-19 cases and isolation alerts in Scott County over the past few weeks to businesses, particularly bars, reopening in the state last month.

“Now that our states are opening up a little bit more — I know Iowa really opening up in June — we’re seeing a definite increase,” said Frederiksen. “We’re really, really encouraging people to make sure that they don’t go out unless they absolutely have to.”

Frederiksen advises essential workers to stay home if they think they may be sick.

“The days of coming to work when you have a cold are over,” says Frederiksen.

She also stresses the importance social distancing at least 6 feet and says it’s “very, very critical” that everyone wear masks or face coverings.

“We require that of all of our personnel,” says Frederiksen. “We are putting masks on all patients — not just patients who we’re suspicious of having COVID illness.”

Due to the increase in isolation alerts, Frederiksen says EMS Medic is also requiring staff to put on extra protective eyewear, face shields and “even some impermeable gowns.”

Moline Fire Department’s Deputy Chief of EMS Travis Noyd says, despite not having the same protocol as Scott County, similar precautions are being taken on the Illinois side while cases continue to be reported daily by the Rock Island Health Department.

Noyd adds that the number of ambulance transports compared to Medic EMS is “obviously not the same.”

According to Noyd, the fire department has transported at least 18 COVID-19 patients since March 12, most of which occurred in April. Because of low call volumes, only one (5%) of those patients was transported in July.

Here is the full monthly breakdown of the 66 confirmed COVID-19 transports conducted by Medic EMS in Scott County:

  • March: 7 transports (11%)
  • April: 21 transports (32%)
  • May: 8 transports (12%)
  • June: 8 transports (12%)
  • July 1-15: 22 transports (33%)

Here is the full monthly breakdown of the 18 confirmed COVID-19 transports conducted by the Moline Fire Department in Rock Island County:

  • March: 2 transports (11%)
  • April: 10 transports (55%)
  • May: 2 transports (11%)
  • June: 3 transports (16%)
  • July 1-15: 1 transport (5%)

More information about COVID-19 in Iowa and Illinois is available here and here.