Coronavirus Update: Shutdowns of note for Riverdale residents

Coronavirus Update: Shutdowns of note for Riverdale residents

No coronavirus cases in the Quad Cities yet, but communities are taking extra precautions to enforce “social distancing” recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control to reduce the chance of infection. Here’s a rundown of a recent teleconference of elected officials and city staff with representatives of the Scott County and Rock Island County Emergency Management Authorities:

Testing has begun; no cases so far

In a widely shared graphic, a tan curve represents a scenario without social distancing measures and where the U.S. hospital system becomes inundated with coronavirus patients.

Although testing for COVID-19 has begun, no confirmed cases of coronavirus have been found in the Quad Cities … yet. According to representatives from both the Scott County and Rock Island County Health Departments, it’s merely a matter of “when” not “if” the area will begin dealing with the ailment. By working to “flatten the curve” through improved hygiene and social distancing – steps that will slow the spread of the inevitable infection – the hope is local healthcare providers will be able to handle the influx of cases and ensure quality care for everyone who needs it.

More than forty local people have been tested so far and many more tests are expected in the near future as testing bandwidth within the US expands and tests become more available. At the moment, it is not possible for anyone who wants a test to get a test – the focus right now remains on those individuals at greatest risk and who present the following symptoms:

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Bettendorf and Davenport take steps to limit crowds at public facilities

The cities of Bettendorf and Davenport will, in all likelihood, be taking the following steps to limit the potential spread of the virus by taking the following steps:

The Bettendorf and Davenport libraries will be closing at the end of business today and remain shuttered for the foreseeable future.

Davenport is considering holding City Council Meetings via teleconference.

Bettendorf’s Family Museum will close and remain close for the foreseeable future.

Davenport and Bettendorf parks programs will be curtailed to restrict crowd sizes, although the Bettendorf Life Fitness Center will remain open – only 50 people at a time will be allowed to be in the LFC at any one time.

Davenport is considering options for operating public transit and making sure people sit at least six feet apart from one another while they ride the bus.

In related news, the Scott County Family Y has announced it will keep its facilities open but classes and other programs will be suspended through the end of the month.

We will continue to post updates on what the community is doing to address the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Please check our website and the Riverdale Residents page on Facebook frequently for the latest news.

How do we handle a global pandemic?

How do we handle a global pandemic?

To many people, it may seem like the media frenzy surrounding the outbreak of Coronavirus is overblown and causing undue panic. And while there is a greater sense of urgency about this outbreak of a new virus, I’d like to share with you why I think it’s valid for us all to be concerned and take some rather simple actions now that could keep things from spiraling out of control.

What’s all the fuss?

COVID-19 (known commonly as the coronavirus) is more than just “a bad flu” – in fact, with a mortality rate of 1-2% of those infected, COVID-19 has the potential of killing 10x to 20x the rate of the regular flu. And because no one has ever had this virus before, no one is yet immune to the disease.

The World Health Organization projects that 40-70% of the world’s population will be infected with COVID-19 by the time a vaccine is finally developed. That’s a pretty staggering statistic – and it might lead some people to think there’s nothing that can be done. That’s where panic can seize hold and exaggerate the problems we’re already facing in terms of community health and economic vitality.

You see, there are things we can do to slow the spread of the disease. While we may end up with half of the people on the planet becoming infected, we’ll be able to take care of those most significantly afflicted if we succeed in “flattening the curve” of infections. That means slowing the spread of the disease enough to avoid overloading our hospitals so there are enough ICU beds and ventilators to go around.

What can we do about it?

Whether you believe the scientist and health officials’ warnings or you believe it’s all just media hype – taking the following steps will help protect the most vulnerable ones in our society:

• Because of delays in the availability of testing, we assume that the virus is already here. Do not attend social gatherings or events if you cannot maintain a 6-foot space between you and others. Businesses, organizations and families should cancel or postpone social gatherings/community events of 250 people or more now. This is to prevent transmission from person-to-person, it applies to all of us and all kinds of gatherings. The size of permissible events will drop steeply as cases are identified and local transmission is established in the metro area.

• If you develop COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), you must call ahead to your medical provider or walk-in clinic. You must not go to an office, clinic or walk-in without giving them the chance to protect their staff and other patients if you are infected.

• Avoid non-essential travel. If you must travel locally, regionally or beyond, know if the virus is spreading at your destination. This will reduce your risk of becoming infected and allow you to defer travel if your destination is experiencing sustained person-to-person transmission. State and local health departments at your destination will know and their web sites will contain the information.

• The need for primary and secondary school closures is being assessed. We completely understand the impacts of these closings — the need for childcare, disruptions of programs like school lunch and many other things. Fortunately, we are entering spring break and have time to think about this in consultation with key stakeholders.

• Stay home if you are sick. Contact your provider by phone or online for advice. Protect the people you live with using the commonsense steps below.

• Take these measures to protect yourself and others. Most are common sense and, maybe more important, good manners.

• Clean your hands often. Soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds are best. This is important especially after you touch surfaces like doorknobs and railings that might be contaminated by the coughs and sneezes of others. This removes and kills the virus. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers work but are second best to soap and water.

• Keep your unwashed hands away from your face and eyes where the virus gets in.

• Avoid close contact with other people, especially if they have signs of a cold or flu. If you don’t come into contact with the virus, you won’t get sick. Best evidence tells us that about 6 feet of separation will be effective.

• Again, stay home if you’re sick — don’t risk giving the virus to others.

Cover coughs and sneezes, preferably using your elbow or disposable tissues, not your hands.

• Clean surfaces that may be contaminated using standard household disinfectants. They work.

• Make sure you have the medical supplies you need for self-care.

• Don’t panic — it doesn’t help. If we work together we will weather this.

• Access reliable information from public health experts, especially your state and local health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Avoid spreading misinformation from unreliable sources in broadcast and social media and the internet.

You’ll find even more recommendations and a clear-eyed assessment of the situation locally from Dr. Louis Katz, the medical director of the Scott County Health Department.

What are we doing about it?

Finally, there are steps even the City of Riverdale can take to help forestall the spread of COVID-19 in the Quad Cities. Although no cases have been reported yet, it is inevitable coronavirus will appear here. Thankfully, community leaders have formed a task force of elected officials, city/county professionals and health experts (including our local healthcare organizations, both private and public) to address this very fluid situation.

Last Friday, I was in attendance at the press conference held by the COVID-19 Coalition. As a result of that press conference and several other meetings held in both Scott County and Rock Island County, we will also be participating in daily briefing calls of elected officials to make sure we’re aware of the latest news concerning public health and the spread of this virus.

Meetings will be held this week with public health officials and school superintendents in Iowa to discuss school closure plans following spring break week. We’ll share that news as soon as we become aware of it. Look for announcements on the City’s website and the Riverdale Residents Facebook Page.  

Elected officials will also be reviewing plans for public events at our next City Council meeting (on March 24) to determine if any of them need to be delayed or cancelled. Most notably, the first event we’ll need to discuss will be the Egg Hunt in Peggy’s Park scheduled for April 4th.

Coronavirus Update: Shutdowns of note for Riverdale residents

With all the warnings about coronavirus, what should we do?

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDHP) just released a statement about how state officials are screening people at risk for coronavirus and takes the opportunity to warn against a much more serious (and common) threat, influenza. In a recent statement provided by the IDPH, they wrote:

(IDPH) continues to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local partners to monitor and respond to novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and has since been detected in other parts of the world, including the U.S.

In February, IDPH began monitoring and testing appropriate individuals for the virus, in accordance with recommendations by President Trump’s Task Force on Coronavirus. Testing is recommended for individuals who traveled to China within the last 14 days AND have symptoms of novel coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath). Public health monitoring and limiting contact with the public is recommended for persons who returned from China within the last 14 days but have no symptoms. Monitoring involves the individual checking in with public health several times each day to ensure the person is still well. These individuals also avoid contact with the public in group settings.

While the emergence of a new virus that can infect humans is always a serious public health concern, the risk to the general public remains low at this time. This is a situation that public health prepares for and responds to with a layered approach to protect the public health.

IDPH reports that testing in the state shows the coronavirus risk to Iowans is quite low. There are fewer than 30 people being monitored and the two individuals tested (as of February 10) have both tested negative.

It’s not too late to get that flu shot, however.

Click on this image to see a larger view of this Flu Prevention Tips graphic.

That being said, the IDPH does warn that Iowans are at much greater risk from influenza. In 2018, there were nearly 300 people in the state who died from the flu or flu-related illnesses. That was up from around 140 deaths the previous year.

This IDPH statement on flu risks was buried inside it’s bulletin about its efforts to monitor for coronavirus.

At this time, the greater risk to Iowans is from influenza. This is also the time of year many respiratory viruses circulate. It is important to protect yourself from any of these viruses by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently, and staying home from work when ill. It is also not too late to get your flu vaccination.

Besides getting vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control recommend some simple steps to help you from catching the flu this season:

Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.

Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

•  Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
Tips on hand washing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers

•  It’s a SNAP Toolkit: Handwashing
Hand washing resources from the It’s A SNAP program, aimed at preventing school absenteeism by promoting clean hands. From the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention, a collaborative project of the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Cleaning Institute.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.