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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

City and community leaders host press conference regarding rise in Covid cases in NEA

JONESBORO, Ark- Since late September, our Covid hospitalizations have gone up 112%.

With the White House Covid Task Force and Governor Hutchinson calling out northeast Arkansas for the spike, community leaders are urging the public to take percautions now, or else it will get worse.

“This again is a graph representation of the state of Arkansas in the top hand left corner you can see where we started and where we are now in terms of new cases," says Dean of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Shane Speights. "But we’ve seen a dramatic increase over the past 10 to 14 days as this graph will show in our hospitalizations.”

Dr. Speights showed evidence four weeks after the mask mandate was implemented, our cases went down, with a slight rise with school re-starting.

With hopes it would decrease after.

Unfortunately, our case count didn’t. Craighead County’s daily average count is 57 new cases.

St. Bernards CEO Chris Barber gave a strong warning to the public about the rising hospitalizations, as local hospitals have treated over 1,350 Covid patients.

“We cannot have consecutive months going into this wintertime period with a 112% increase in COVID hospitalizations,” says Barber. “At some point in time you can only flex so much, you can only stretch so much. So, we are putting everyone on notice. We don’t have a major issue today, but if we continue this trend, we will have real problems in our community in the near future.”

Barber says they are prepared for the increase but says there shouldn’t be a rise in cases.

So far, no super spreader events have been identified in Jonesboro, with most cases coming from the community or small gatherings.

Dr. Speights also explained how important it is to wear a mask.

“What the big problem is or what people don’t understand is, we’ve got a significant portion everywhere from 20-40% depending on which study you read of individuals who are sick and don’t know it,” says Dr. Speights. “And who are spreading it and don’t know it. You’re spreading it to individuals who may have a bad outcome. So, this is a lot, it’s an individual decision that effects the community. The mask wearing is something an individual can take, that makes a positive difference in their community in terms of viral spread.”

Each panelist is asking the public to continue to take percautions including wear a mask and washing your hands.

A drive thru Covid testing clinic is also scheduled for Tuesday at the health department from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.


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