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Conway Human Development Center stops in-person visits as COVID cases begin to surge

As of Thursday, the facility had 10 staff and 10 residents who were COVID positive. The decision to end visitation was one to help halt cases from increasing.

CONWAY, Ark. — The largest state facility that provides care for the disabled has stopped in-person visits due to the increasing COVID-19 cases.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health Services (DHS) said that some of the cases reported between staff and residents at the Conway Human Development Center are connected to the Delta Variant. 

The decision to shut the doors on visitation was to help ensure that the cluster of cases didn't increase.

Paul Rainwater's 19-year-old son has called the Conway Human Development Center home for the last nine years. 

"Anyone who has a loved one at a place like this, they've been through a lot of challenges, they've been through a lot of issues and concerns," he said.

That resilient mentality is why the news of the COVID outbreak didn't phase Rainwater or his family.

"Our heart is that we're not worried and we're not coming at it from a position of fear," Rainwater said. "Everything will be alright and we've seen them take care of our son over and over again."

According to DHS spokesperson Amy Webb, the facility had 10 staff and 10 residents who were COVID positive as of Thursday.

"The staff are not on campus," Webb said. "They are remaining off-site until it's safe for them to return and the clients are quarantined for their protection and the protection of others."

That's just one of several steps the facility is now taking.

Webb said last week they started requiring employees to wear KN95 masks, instead of surgical or cloth masks. The facility has also began giving tests in masses.

"We're just watching it closely and hoping we don't see the types of spikes and numbers that we saw several months ago in the winter," she said.

According to Webb, 46% of the staff and 90% of the residents are fully vaccinated. 

Getting that staff percentage higher is something they are working on daily, to ensure that outbreaks like this don't happen again.

"We knew variants are out there and until we can get more people vaccinated, we know this is a potential issue," she said.

Webb said they will follow the Department of Health's guidelines to determine the best time to open visitation again. 

DHS has also made every human development center switch to the KN95 masks.