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UAMS reopens two COVID units, Department of Health reinstates COVID Com system

With COVID hospitalizations rising, state health officials are bringing back operations to help with the burden.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Wednesday was Arkansas's 15th day in a row that the state saw an increase in COVID-19  hospitalizations.

It's a feeling we know all too well from last year, with the steady climb of cases, more people get sick and are sent to the hospital.

Now, state leaders feel that it's urgent to get the cases under control.

"It's not a flashback, it's more like a nightmare," Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor of UAMS, said.

"I do not want a repeat of this last winter, but the way we are headed right now we will have a repeat," Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, State Epidemiologist, said. 

UAMS is once again seeing more coronavirus patients come through their doors. 

The hospital has reinstated its two COVID units with 43 coronavirus patients: 12 of those individuals are on ventilators and 3 are on heart-lung bypass.

Many of the COVID patients are younger. They're getting sicker as the Delta variant dominates.

"We at UAMS are doubling the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital about every 10 days," Patterson said.

The Arkansas Department of Health has reinstated the COVID Com, a system that helps hospitals see the number of open beds to transfer patients.

"By the beginning of August we could have 1,300 people in the hospital with COVID-19 unless we do something to turn it around," Dillaha said.

Unfortunately that's something she doesn't see happening any time soon.

"We are going to get to the point where we have some difficult decisions to make," Dillaha said.

Unless more people start getting vaccinated immediately.

"The Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine take five to six weeks to develop full immunity and with the Delta variant they are going to need the full immunity," Dillaha said.