The COVID-19 metrics continue to be very stable for Hot Springs and Garland County, according to County Health Officer Dr. Gene Shelby.
The Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Task Force is meeting monthly and did not convene this week, but Shelby provided his weekly COVID-19 statistic update electronically to the group.
For the week of April 10-17, there were only 16 reported new cases, compared to the previous week’s 11. There were 301 reported tests, compared to the previous week’s 366. Active cases in the county increased by one, from 29 the previous week to 30, as of Monday morning. There were two COVID-related deaths recorded, bringing the cumulative total to 509.
Shelby explained that the reported cases represent only a fraction of the actual cases, with estimates that the reported cases may represent as few as 7% of the actual total cases some areas.
“I think that is low, but I think that 30-50% could be reasonable. In addition to unreported home tests, the BA.2 omicron sub-variant frequently causes no or very mild symptoms, so people don’t get tested,” said Shelby. “This is especially true in people who have been vaccinated and boosted, and probably also in people who have some immunity from a prior infection. So, I think that watching for trends is more important than actual numbers of cases.”
Shelby also shared the continued uncertainty regarding the second booster, which is available for those over the age of the 50 and the immunocompromised, in terms of who should take it and the optimal time for it.
“To me, for people with no underlining medical problems, it doesn’t make since to take it now with so little virus in the community. But, when we do start seeing more infections, I would definitely encourage eligible people to get it,” said Shelby.