The University of Arkansas’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health model for medical sciences has predicted a daily average of 1,039 new cases over the next week. The model also predicted an average increase of 169 new cases per day in children under 17.
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Arkansas leads the country in the number of new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The state also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with just 35% of the population fully vaccinated.
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“COVID is no longer smoldering. It has turned into a raging forest fire that will grow in size and strength, ”according to UAMS forecasts. “We cannot stand still. We must act to minimize the consequences of this new surge as much as possible. “
The state’s cases increased Tuesday from 1,875 to 367,007 in total since the start of the pandemic, the health ministry said.
Dr Jose Romero, Secretary of State for Health, said he was concerned about the possibility of an “increase on top of this increase” when school begins this fall. Laws enacted this year prevent schools from imposing face masks or requiring students and teachers to get vaccinated.
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“I expect to see significant epidemics within the school system this year,” Romero said in a virtual discussion on vaccine reluctance hosted by US News & World Report. “What already tells me this is going to happen is the number of daycare closures that have occurred due to epidemics, and exposures and camp closures.”
Romero said the key to tackling these epidemics would be for parents to stress the importance of wearing masks.
White House immunization coordinator Dr Bechara Choucair traveled to Arkansas on Tuesday to meet with Romero, hospital officials and other health officials. Choucair said the medical community will play a key role in tackling the misinformation that has fueled reluctance to get vaccinated in places like Arkansas.
“To be able to counter all this misinformation with facts, with answers to the most frequently asked questions, the ability for people to talk to their doctors to make sure they have credible scientific information is going to be really critical for us. help deal with this level of misinformation that we are seeing, ”he said.
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Earlier this month, Gov. Asa Hutchinson began holding town halls across the state aimed at addressing people who have so far resisted immunization, and he has scheduled further forums for the next day. next week.
The state’s virus hospitalizations increased from 28 to 815 on Tuesday, including 313 in intensive care and 131 on ventilators. UAMS Chancellor Dr Cam Patterson said the increases are straining hospital resources.
“Our staff are really stretched at this point,” Patterson said. “It’s not about finding beds, it’s about finding people to care for patients, whether they are COVID-19 positive or not. “