According to Garland County Health Officer Dr. Gene Shelby at the Feb. 28 meeting of the Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Task Force, “we can be happy where we are at and hopeful this trend will continue and feel good about our community’s response.“
Shelby’s weekly COVID statistic report for the county included the 73 new cases, or an average of 10.4 per day, which is down from the previous week’s 250 new cases and 35.7 new cases per day. The positivity rate of 7.1% was lower than the previous week’s 20.2%. Active cases fell from 229 the previous week to 94, at the time of the meeting. There were nine reported COVID-19 deaths last week.
Dr. Shelby wanted to remind individuals of the importance of getting the COVID booster shot saying that “the booster shot is making a big difference in preventing people from getting very ill and dying from this infection.”
Hospital representatives from CHI St. Vincent and National Park Medical Center reported a total of 22 COVID-19 patients, a decrease from the 67 patients reported at the time of the Feb. 14 meeting. There was a total of three COVID patients in intensive care and requiring ventilation.
School districts again reported dramatically lower numbers of COVID cases, with a total of two cases reported from the county’s seven public school districts.
National Park College reported 4 active cases at the time of the meeting and that starting on Tuesday, March 1, the college will be adopting a 5-day isolation instead of the 10-day isolation time.
The Garland County Health Unit (GCHU) continues to administer the influenza (flu) vaccine, as well as the following COVID vaccines: pediatric (ages 5 – 18) and adult-dose Pfizer, the initial and booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson and booster doses for ages 16-17. No appointments are needed for these vaccines or boosters.
So far, the GCHU has supplied over 57,000 state-ordered COVID-19 home test kits to the public. The health unit collected 11 specimens for PCR COVID testing over the past two weeks.
The GCHU continues to offer its full range of health services inside its facility, such as family planning appointments during the week between Monday through Thursday.
Along with requiring a face mask to enter, the GCHU also has a machine that takes people’s temperatures. Those with elevated temperatures are not allowed to enter.
The health unit is located at 1425 Malvern Avenue and is open from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Free COVID testing is available until 3 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, and until noon on Fridays, by appointment only. To make an appointment, call 501-624-3394.
The City of Hot Springs Community Block Grant (CDBG) Administrator Andrew Coker stated there are still some CDBG-Coronavirus funds available for homeless services.
The United Way of the Ouachitas continues to have an online application for COVID-19 assistance for area families and individuals affected by the pandemic 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.