As a Scott County resident Saturday became the first person who lives in the Quad-Cities to test positive for COVID-19, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he's planning to ease regulations to let doctors work across Illinois and border states more easily.
During a press conference Saturday, Pritzker said he would make it easier for out-of-state health professionals in towns along state borders to practice in Illinois. That will help communities like the Quad-Cities better deploy resources, he said.
The Scott County Health Department announced Saturday that the adult between the ages of 41 and 60 who tested positive is self-isolating at home after being seen in a Scott County medical clinic.
Two previous positive tests in Scott County involved people who do not live in the area.
"While this is Scott County's first case in a resident, it may not be the last, and that's why we encourage all residents to continue to make prevention a priority," said Scott County Health Department Director Edward Rivers in a press release.
Pritzker also on Saturday issued a “call to action” to retired health care workers to help fight Illinois’ COVID-19 outbreak.
“I’m asking all former physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and respiratory care therapists who have recently left the field, whether for retirement or a new profession, to come back and join the fight against COVID-19,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said the state will waive fees and expedite licenses so they can rejoin the health care workforce “right away.” He said reinstatement forms for interested people will be available Monday on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website at idfpr.com.
Case numbers rise
Iowa confirmed 23 more COVID-19 cases Saturday, also including one each in Muscatine and Dubuque. That brings the total to 68 positive cases in Iowa, with no fatalities. The Scott County case was not among those numbers, but was reported by the Scott County Health Department.
Illinois on Saturday had 753 confirmed cases — including 168 new ones — and six fatalities, according to the state health department. The closest confirmed case in Illinois is in Whiteside County.
The new Dubuque case is an adult between the ages of 61 and 80. The new Muscatine case is an adult between the ages of 41 and 60. It is the second confirmed case in Muscatine.
On Friday, Pritzker ordered all Illinois residents to stay home except to conduct essential business.
During his Saturday press conference, he asked Illinoisans to self-enforce the stay-at-home order. If law enforcement officers see something, they will say something, he said, and the next step would be gaining a cease-and-desist order from the court. In an extreme case, an officer could charge a person with reckless conduct, Pritzker said.
"But we're not looking to put people in jail," he said. "This is about helping people." He urged residents to take a walk, walk the dog, and to check on neighbors, especially those who are health care workers and first responders.
In response to a question about why some manufacturing companies were not directed to shut down, Pritzker said the supply chain must be maintained.
"Bread isn't just bread, it's the twist tie and the bag," he said. Production must be kept open all the way through the chain.
Gov. Kim Reynolds is now asking any Iowans who traveled recently for business or spring break, domestically or internationally, to consider self-isolating.
During a press conference Friday, Reynolds said the state had 620 tests available to administer statewide, though this number changes day to day. Public health officials said the tests would only be administered in cases where additional care was deemed necessary.
If people are exhibiting symptoms — fever, cough, fatigue — they should call their health care provider, but in Iowa, they should not expect to be tested unless the case is severe; they have underlying conditions; or they meet other qualifications.
Reynolds will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 22, which will be streamed live on her Facebook page.
Capitol News Illinois contributed to this report.
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