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Arkansas health officials expect fall COVID-19 surge, third booster likely on the way

While many have been feeling burnt out by the pandemic, health experts advise to stay cautious in the face of another COVID surge.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — With COVID-19 cases on the rise and hospitalizations going up, it may feel like déjà vu – almost a callback to last summer.

If it feels repetitive, we agree. But health officials say while that may be the case, they've started to prepare for the risk of yet another surge as we head into the fall.

"I think so, and then over time we'll learn about how often people need to be re-boosted," Dr. Jennifer Dillaha at the Arkansas Department of Health, said.

Dr. Dillaha stated that COVID will most likely surge again and a third booster will likely be available soon after.

"I think that's going to be helpful to us because of the highly transmissible nature of these subvariants," she said.

The newest of those is BA.5, which Dr. Dillaha said is the most dominant in the country right now. Unfortunately, Arkansas shares that title – the Natural State is currently leading the nation in COVID-19 cases.

With seemingly never-ending waves of COVID, many are wondering when this will end. Unfortunately, it might not.

"You know, this virus is here to stay," she said. "We're not going to wipe it out and it's not going to go away."

Although many of us have felt burnt out when it comes to the pandemic, it's important to note that it still should not be taken lightly.

"I think going around with the view of, 'Oh, everybody is going to get it,' is just seeding defeat," Dr. Robert Hopkins at UAMS, said.

Dr. Hopkins said he understands that burnt-out feeling that many have. At the same time, he said apathy isn't how the pandemic will end, and neither is herd immunity anymore.

Hopkins added that staying on top of vaccinations and boosters will eventually help end this, especially with new work being done to improve them.

"There's continuing work going on around additional vaccines, around different types of vaccines," Hopkins said. "So don't throw in the towel while we're still working on the tools."

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