Health officials: Younger people not immune from contracting, spreading coronavirus

Face masks are just one of the personal protection items greatly needed. (MGN Image)
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(KWQC) - Local health officials said Wednesday that the age demographics of confirmed coronavirus cases show that it is not an illness that only older adults are catching.

“We are finding a large number of our positive cases are in individuals in the younger adult (18-40 years of age) and middle-aged adult (41-60) age groups,” Ed Rivers, director of the Scott County Health Department, said during a daily media briefing of the QC COVID-19 Coalition. “In fact, based on the positive cases received, cases reported for the younger adult (18-40 years of age) and middle-aged adult (41-60 years of age) are both higher than the number of cases in the older adult (61-80 years of age) and elderly (>81 years of age) age groups.”

The state of Iowa is reporting similar age breakdowns for the positive cases across the state, he said.

“While we know that testing criteria may play a role in some of this, it is still noteworthy to share that younger individuals are not immune from contracting and spreading this illness,” he said.

Those over the age of 60 are more likely to experience more serious COVID-19 illness, health officials have said.

“But if we are seeing larger numbers of cases in the younger adult and middle-aged adult age groups and their illnesses are less severe, we may be seeing increased spread of the illness by these less sick groups if they aren’t following our pleas to stay home as much as possible.”

Health officials on Wednesday continued to stress the importance of staying home as much as possible to slow the spread of coronavirus in the community.

On Wednesday, Scott County reported 11 additional confirmed coronavirus cases, for a total of 77. Nine people remain hospitalized, and 57 have recovered.

Rock Island County reported 13 more cases, for a total of 73. Five people remain hospitalized. Health officials also said a second person, a woman in her 70s who had been hospitalized, has died.

Currently, personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns, goggles and face shields, is in short supply, but more are coming into our community through the Strategic National Stockpile, Rock Island health officials said.

The SNS includes supplies maintained by the federal government and distributed through state Emergency Management Agencies.

“We are beginning to see some supplies come into our county,” said Nita Ludwig, administrator of the Rock Island County Health Department. “Our emergency preparedness manager is working closely with the county’s EMA to get these supplies to requesting first responders and healthcare workers as quickly as possible.”

Through the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, certain entities can request PPE. This current process is in place during this unprecedented COVID-19 response and involves both the Illinois Pharmaceutical Stockpile and the Strategic National Stockpile, health officials said.

“The general public cannot request masks or other PPE through this process,” Ludwig said. “The Salvation Army in the Quad Cities is collecting homemade masks and other donated PPE that residents and organizations can request.”

Mike Miller, president, and chief executive officer of River Bend Foodbank, said during Wednesday’s briefing that the organization is committed to expanding charitable food distribution to help more people who are even now more in need because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“There is no truth to any rumor that we are suspending operations, but it has become necessary for us to modify almost everything we do for the safety of all involved,” he said.
From the inception of this crisis, River Bend Foodbank developed immediate, moderate, and catastrophic plans for responding. “For the record, we are currently somewhere in between immediate and moderate,” he said.

The foodbank has suspended all unnecessary travel, is avoiding outside meetings and is strictly limiting access to the facility. Anyone who does enter is asked three screening questions provided by public health officials before being admitted and is required to use hand sanitizer, located at all entrances, he said.

For everyone’s safety, volunteers and staff from the hundreds of food pantries who used to enter to select individual food items no longer come into the building. The foodbank’s entire inventory is now available on an online ordering system. Partner agencies order ahead and pull up to the doors. Foodbank staff then set their pallets of food items on the dock, and they load their vehicles without having to enter, Miller said.

“Inside the building, we have become fanatic about hand washing, using hand sanitizer, coughing into our sleeves, not touching our faces, and staying 6 feet away from each other at all times,” he said. “Sick people are staying home, and employees with sick family members are staying home. We recognize that should we have an outbreak at the foodbank, that would shut us down, and we are doing everything in our power to keep that day from happening.”

Miller said the toughest issue for his team is how to handle their dedicated volunteers.

“The great progress we have made toward ending hunger has been a community-wide effort. River Bend Foodbank typically utilizes over 4,000 volunteers who work over 15,000 hours every year,” he said, “Honestly, we could use their help more than ever before, and hundreds of people have called to offer, but we don’t want to open our doors to the public and expose ourselves to community spread. This is for the safety of everyone involved – the volunteers themselves, along with our staff, partner agencies, and the hungry people we serve.”

At this time, the foodbank is asking volunteers to register on the organization’s website,
riverbendfoodbank.org
and click “Volunteer.”

“While no specific opportunities are being scheduled at this time when that time comes, we will reach out to those who register,” he said.