News Flash

City of Hot Springs News Releases

Posted on: September 15, 2020

HS/GC COVID Task Force: Schools seeking prospective substitute teachers/bus drivers

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At this point in the pandemic, school superintendents across Garland County are more concerned that the quarantining of teachers and bus drivers could force a change to virtual learning more so than the threat of positive cases within school districts.

At the weekly virtual meeting of the Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Task Force, superintendents said that prospective substitute teachers or bus drivers could call the following numbers:

  • Cutter Morning Star School District
    • Prospective substitute teachers: 501-262-2414
    • Prospective bus drivers: 501-262-2414
  • Fountain Lake School District
    • Prospective substitute teachers: Kelly Services – 501-224-0090
    • Prospective bus drivers: FLSD Transportation Department – 501-701-1794
  • Hot Springs School District
    • Prospective substitute teachers: Kelly Services – 501-224-0090
    • Prospective bus drivers: HSSD Transportation Department – 501-623-2995
  • Jessieville School District
    • Prospective substitute teachers: 501-984-5381
    • Prospective bus drivers: 501-984-5381
  • Lake Hamilton School District
    • Prospective substitute teachers: Kelly Services – 501-224-0090
    • Prospective bus drivers: LHSD Transportation Department – 501-767-9393
  • Lakeside School District
    • Prospective substitute teachers: 1-800-621-0140
    • Prospective bus drivers: 501-262-2476
  • Mountain Pine School District
    • Prospective substitute teachers: Kelly Services – 501-620-7807
    • Prospective bus drivers: 501-767-1540, ext. 1

Aside from staffing concerns, superintendents again shared optimistic reports with few positive cases and more families choosing to transition from virtual learning to on-site instruction as they learn of the mitigation efforts being done by the schools.

Garland County Health Officer Dr. Gene Shelby said that county remains on a plateau in terms of COVID-19 numbers, with the weekly numbers having not changed significantly for the past five weeks. Data from this past week, Sept. 6-13, includes cumulative antigen test data added by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). For this reason, this week’s numbers may be skewed a bit because it is not clear when the added antigen tests were performed, he said. There were 123 new cases reported, seven of which were from antigen tests (meaning they may have been spread over the past few weeks). There were a total of 1,816 tests completed, which also includes previous antigen tests. The positivity rate from last week’s ADH data shows a 6.8% positivity rate, but Shelby said he expects to get a better picture of where the county is next week. Active cases dropped by six from the previous week to 139. The ADH total of active cases plus those under investigation dropped five to 165.

The distribution in the county showed that the Garland County portion of Hot Springs Village increased by two to eight total active cases. Royal increased by four to a total of five active cases. Shelby said that there have been no cases in the database for the past three weeks from Fountain Lake, Jessieville or Bonnerdale. Cases among those with Spanish surnames also dropped one to a current total of eight cases, or 4.8% of the county’s total number of active and possible cases. After last week’s drop in cases among the 65-and-older group, cases among that group rose again with an increase of around 6% to make up 23.6% of the county’s total cases, or about twice the state average for this group. Shelby is concerned about the high case numbers for this age group, as it will most likely lead to extreme cases and more deaths. There was a decrease in the 18-24 age group, from 27 to 20, and the 6-17 age group saw an increase from 21 to 35 cases.

The number of deaths rose by five from last week to 36 at the time of the meeting. Shelby said that 19 of the 36 deaths in the county have occurred within the past four weeks, meaning there has been an average of almost five deaths each week.

Representatives from National Park Medical Center and CHI St. Vincent both shared that patient numbers have decreased this past week, including fewer COVID-19 patients in the intensive care units.

The Garland County Health Unit completed a total of 80 COVID-19 tests last week, which was down in part due to the Labor Day holiday. Their supply of antigen tests from the state was down to three at the time of the meeting, and they are solely for use on any students, teachers or school staff who are exhibiting symptoms. Once their supply is exhausted, the health unit will continue to give students, teachers and staff priority PCR testing through the ADH Public Health Lab. Also, for negative antigen test results, a PCR test will be used to confirm the result. The Garland County Health Unit is located at 1425 Malvern Avenue, and provides drive-up COVID-19 testing from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday. To minimize wait times, call ahead at 501-624-3394.

The Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Call Center at 501-760-4307 continues to have a high volume of callers asking about antigen tests. There is still a short supply of antigen tests for this area. Those being administered by the Garland County Health Unit are reserved for those exhibiting symptoms with priority given to those from the education sector.

Garland County Judge Darryl Mahoney said that the county has received approval from the state for one broadband high-speed internet grant project. He said that there are two more proposals in line to be approved, and another three are ready to be submitted. The state is distributing the grants using CARES Act funding to add broadband to rural areas of Arkansas.

Mahoney said that the recent Garland County fair was a “huge success,” and that the public had a good response to the face mask and social distancing requirements.

The United Way of the Ouachitas continues to work to meet the needs of the community. The UWO application for COVID-19 assistance is online at https://www.unitedwayouachitas.org/covid-19-application. To donate to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, visit www.bit.ly/UWO-COVID, call 501-623-2505 or send a check by mail at 233 Hobson Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71913.

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