Health officials from in and around the Quad-Cities delivered news Thursday of the deaths of 13 people linked to COVID-19.
Rock Island County reported five deaths, Scott County reported five and Henry County reported three.
But there is better news on the horizon. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, considered to be the best hope for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, are scheduled to arrive in Scott and Rock Island counties next week.
Rock Island is expected to receive 1,000 doses, while Scott County is scheduled for delivery of 2,000 doses. All doses will be administered to front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
In Scott County, the Pfizer vaccine will be stored by Genesis Health System's three new deep freezers and at one site in the county. Rock Island's frozen supply will be held out of county and shipped to vaccination sites.
Frozen vaccine is good for five days after being removed from cold storage.
Both versions of the vaccine will be administered in two stages. For the Pfizer vaccine, a second booster shot will be given 21 days after the initial vaccination. For the Moderna vaccination, the booster is taken 28 days after first dose.
The vaccines cannot be mixed.
Health officials stressed it is not known how long the immunity offered by the vaccine lasts. One of the key factors in a vaccine's effectiveness is how many people receive the vaccine in the effort to build "herd immunity."
The fewer people who opt for vaccination will increase the chance the virus will continue to spread.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an MRNA vaccine — which means it does not use a live virus. Health officials are trying to combat rumors that MRNA vaccines somehow change a person's DNA. MRNA vaccines do not attach to DNA and in no way alter or effect DNA.
Death toll continues to mount
Twenty deaths in the Q-C have been linked to the virus in the past two days. The first 10 days of December have brought 62 COVID-19-related deaths to Rock Island and Scott counties — 41 on the Illinois side of the river and 22 on the Iowa side.
The Rock Island County Health Department reported Thursday's five additional deaths were: a man in his 90s, a man in his 80s, a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 80s, all of whom lived in long-term-care facilities; and a woman in her 80s who died at home.
Rock Island County's total number of COVID-19-linked deaths since the start of the pandemic is 192.
The three COVID-19-related deaths reported Thursday by the Henry County Health Department were a woman in her 80s and two women in their 90s. Henry County's virus-linked death toll since the start of the pandemic is 24.
Scott County does not report details about deaths.
Case counts also continue to rise
In Scott County, health officials said there were 134 new cases Thursday, pushing the county's total since the start of the pandemic to 12,636.
A total of 113 deaths in Scott County have been linked to the virus.
The Rock Island County Health Department reported 124 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, raising the total number to 9,522 since March.
There are 76 patients hospitalized in Rock Island County.
Both of Q-C area's largest health care providers offered more details about hospitalizations.
Genesis Health System reported 66 COVID-19 patients Thursday — 50 in Davenport, 11 in Silvis, two in Aledo, two in DeWitt and one in Jackson County.
Genesis Health Systems cumulative positive test result rate for the Q-C since the start of the pandemic is 13.26% — which breaks down to 7,942 positive tests out of 59,903. In the past seven days Genesis has ordered 400 tests. So far, 194 have been completed with 28 positive — a rate of 14.43%.
UnityPoint Health-Trinity reported 78 COVID-19 patients Thursday, with 23 in the ICU. The hospital capacity utilized in Rock Island is 74%, while in Bettendorf it is 76%.
The hospital system put its current regional ICU operating capacity at 67% and noted 87 employees are not working because of positive COVID-19 tests or suspected contact with the virus.
UnityPoint Health-Trinity's daily average testing positivity rate for month of December remained high, at 28.53%. The health system's weekly average positivity rate is 29.84%.
Illinois health officials reported 11,101 new cases Thursday. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has confirmed 823,531 infections and linked the virus to 13,861 deaths.
Iowa passed the quarter-million mark for infections Thursday, as 2,107 new cases put the state's total at 251,365 cases since the start of the pandemic. A total of 3,120 deaths have been linked to the virus.