• Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Winter Covid task force member talks about their first meeting


JONESBORO, Ark- Last Friday Governor Asa Hutchinson announce the creation of a new Coronavirus winter task force.

To lower Covid and hospitalizations numbers in the state.

Gov. Hutchinson’s winter Covid task force met yesterday for the first time to discuss multiple topics.

Task force member and St. Bernards Medical Center CEO Chris Barber explains what was discussed during the meeting.

“Our baseline is looking at hospitalizations, bed capacity, staffing needs of our region, in addition to P.P.E., how can we appropriately transfer patients during this time period. How can we resource that? Making sure we have a coordinated basis, not only for northeast Arkansas, northwest but the entire state,” says Barber.

Due to high Covid cases, the group met over Zoom.

Barber says other talking points include strategies of how to control the spread of the virus and mask wearing.

Members will break up into subcommittees to focus on different Covid categories.

So far, they haven’t received their assigned subcommittee yet.

Barber says he feels confident after yesterday’s meeting. He says wants to remind people they have the power to flatten the curve.

“Mask wearing reduces the transmission, and so if we could get better compliance of that with all our entities throughout the organization, individuals as well,” he says. “Certainly, there are things we can do to limit social gathering”

Barber says he expects “important and good things” to come out of the task force.

As the recommendations will help the whole state, not just a sole region.

With thanksgiving approaching, barber says we need to be mindful, so we don’t see another spike in cases.

“Folks wanna see each other and wanna get together. There is a way to do that, but we need to be mindful and take the appropriate approach to do that. So, I think folks can do that reasonably, and some folks may do that via Zoom, and it just depends on the age of their loved one, where they’re living and their circumstances,” says Barber.”

The task force will meet again later this week and report out information and activity and Barber says they plan to continue meeting multiple times per week.

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