FORT SMITH, Ark. — COVID-19 is once again making its presence known in the Natural State.
Pulaski County leads the state with over 900 active cases, Washington County is second with 404 and Benton County is third with 339 active cases. In the River Valley, Sebastian County has 117 active cases.
Arkansas has not had a single day below 1,000 active cases since April 18, 2022.
As the number of active cases increases, so do the number of hospitalizations.
"We're over 100 people in the hospital today, compared to where we were, I think the last time we were over 100 was April 5th," said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, Director for the Arkansas Department of Health.
Dr. Dillaha says the main concern for health officials is that the number of active cases is increasing all across the state, and not just in one area. That increase could land more patients in hospitals.
"The numbers are going to be higher in areas where there are more people," Dr. Dillaha said. "Higher population numbers are going to see a higher number of cases, but proportionately, it's spreading all across the state."
There isn't an immediate concern for health facilities to reach capacity, but Dr. Dillaha and the Arkansas Department of Health are closely monitoring the potential for an increase in cases following the Memorial Day holiday. She says the current subvariants of the Omicron variant are more easily spread and Arkansas could see more active cases in the next week, with an increase in hospitalizations soon to follow.
At that time, capacities will be looked at. All across the country, more hospitalizations lead to a higher strain on hospital staff and a potential shortage of nurses available to care for patients.
However, with the summer months approaching, Dr. Dillaha hopes the numbers could soon fall.
"We're hoping that with more outdoor activity, people have more opportunity to be outdoors. That would reduce the opportunity for transmission," Dr. Dillaha said.
The Arkansas Department of Health continues to urge residents to get vaccinated and receive their booster shots. The FDA could be evaluating a new vaccine as early as next week.
"We have a new vaccine, potentially coming down the pike, called Novavax. People may prefer that one. It's made in a more traditional way than the mRNA vaccines," Dr. Dillaha said.
Click here for more information about COVID-19 from the Arkansas Department of Health.
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