Arkansas sees record-breaking COVID numbers
Arkansas saw its highest-ever number of new, single-day COVID-19 cases Tuesday with 6,562 cases, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a news conference.
Why it matters: Hospitalizations, while not nearly as high as other times during the pandemic, are rapidly increasing in the state. Meanwhile, long lines and wait times for tests are making it more difficult to identify cases early.
By the numbers: 775 were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arkansas on Tuesday, an increase of 53 in just one day. The Arkansas Department of Health reported 496 people were hospitalized two weeks earlier on Dec. 21.
State of play: Hutchinson said he is sending 50 National Guard troops to assist with testing around the state in addition to 10 already deployed to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
Zoom in: Hospitals in NWA were caring for a combined total of 80 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday, according to the Northwest Arkansas Council.
- A spokesperson for Washington Regional Medical Center confirmed to Axios the hospital will likely receive help from the National Guard but has not been told how many troops will be deployed there.
What about the kids: Jose Romero, the state’s health secretary, pointed out the state has one children’s hospital system, Arkansas Children’s, which has hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale.
- He expressed concern that that system can become overwhelmed if parents do not get their kids vaccinated and boosted if they are eligible.
Between the lines: While the state will step in to increase testing or hospital space, it’s doing little to curb individual behavior.
- Hutchinson has said repeatedly that he does not plan to reinstate a statewide mask mandate or issue any kind of vaccine mandates.
The bottom line: Health officials say your best bet to control the spread is get vaccinated, get a booster shot if eligible, and take other precautions like mask wearing and social distancing.
Editor’s note: We’ve updated this story after a Washington Regional Medical Center spokesperson clarified that the hospital will likely receive help from the National Guard, but they’re not yet certain.
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