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Arkansas hospitalizations remain low despite rising COVID cases

Despite cases once again rising in Arkansas, hospitalizations have remained low. It's a good sign for hospitals who are hopeful we won't see a surge in admissions.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — COVID cases continue to rise in Arkansas, but it's not the same story we've seen when it comes to hospitalizations. 

You probably know of someone right now that has COVID because the virus is spreading, but the good news is that hospitals aren't flooded with patients. 

We asked doctors if this means we're at a new point in the pandemic.

The halls at UAMS are always busy. Unlike a vast majority of the past two years, the pandemic isn't the main driver behind the hospital's foot traffic, according to Dr. Robert Hopkins.  

"Hospitals don't tend to run with lots of open beds, but at least COVID is not an additional pressure to the normal things that we see this time of year," he said.

While COVID patients aren't taking up the hospitals beds, it is once again spreading throughout our state. 

Two days in a row cases have topped 200, which isn't a shock to Dr. Hopkins.

"Most people are not really doing much in the way of public health protections and we don't have a highly vaccinated population, so I'm not terribly surprised to see rates going up," he said.

Currently UAMS has 10 COVID patients. That's far fewer than what they've had in the past, though Dr. Hopkins is still cautious.

"The challenge is... is that 10, what we're going to peak out or do we still have a lot of waves going up? I'm hopeful that we're not going to see a big surge up in hospitalization numbers from that," he said.

Over at Conway Regional Hospital, CEO Matt Troup, is holding on to that same hope.

"It is nice actually to see almost a sense of relief on people's faces. There is a sense of joy again," he said.

Right now their hospital has just one COVID patient, a feeling that Troup said is hard to put into words.

"We've been through these peaks and valleys so much that I think we're taking it more in stride, knowing that if another surge happens we're prepared for it," he said.

While they're prepared in the event, Troup doesn't believe hospitalizations will ever hit those levels again since we could possibly be turning a new page on the pandemic.

"Time will tell, but I think the prevalence of the virus combined with vaccinations have helped to keep hospitalizations low," he said.

Now with cases up, it's really important to remember the guidance if you test positive. 

You should stay at home for five days and make sure to get tested again after that. 

Additionally if you're vaccinated and you've been exposed but test negative, you should wear a mask around others, just to be safe.

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