Governor AR enters period of greatest risk with Omicron Surge / Public News Service


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Arkansas reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, as the highly contagious variant of Omicron spreads, reflecting trends seen across the country.

The Arkansas Department of Health saw more than 6,500 positive cases on Tuesday, the highest number since the summer 2021 outbreak. Hospitalizations have yet to reach the same peak levels, but it is is something that health officials watch out for.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said next month would be tough and suggested the Arkansans do their part by wearing a mask and talking with their doctor about getting the shot if they’re eligible.

“We are entering a period of probably the greatest risk we have faced during the pandemic,” he said. “We have Omicron here which is less severe – but at the same time the sheer volume of numbers poses challenges for us that we have never faced before.”

Hutchinson said his administration requested 1.5 million in-home COVID tests from the White House last week, but expects delays due to a national shortage. Arkansas is also reporting a record positivity rate in COVID testing of 25.5% in the past seven days.

The state is increasingly concerned about the capacity of children’s hospitals as pediatric cases of COVID are on the rise. Health Secretary Jose Romero said he was encouraging parents to get eligible children vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We have a great children’s hospital here in the state with a satellite campus in Northwest Arkansas,” he said, “so there’s a chance that with more of the case, we can overwhelm this system. “

Authorities have also recommended that parents send their children to school with face masks. According to the state Department of Health, school districts with a mask warrant have seen a 25% reduction in COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

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