After a steady decline in most of the COVID-19 metrics for Garland County, there was a flattening or an increase in the numbers for the week of Oct. 2 – 9, County Health Officer Dr. Gene Shelby shared in his weekly update to the Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Task Force on Oct. 10.
Shelby reported a total of 76 new cases for the week, compared to the previous weeks’ 46 and 64. “We continue to see a decline of reported active cases, but at a much slower rate,” said Shelby. As of Monday morning, there were 87 active cases, compared to previous weeks’ 95 and 157.
There were five deaths reported last week, bringing the cumulative total to 541. “We continue to see a significant increase of recorded deaths,” said Shelby. “Though most likely occurred in the past couple of months, we have added 18 in the past six weeks.”
Representatives from CHI St. Vincent and National Park Medical Center reported having a total of two COVID-19 patients, with one requiring ventilation.
Shelby recently attended the County Health Officer’s Retreat, which featured presentations from the physicians and staff of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), including ADH Director Dr. Jennifer Dillaha and former Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith. Shelby said two main themes were that COVID-19 is not over and boosters really do matter.
The Garland County Health Unit is administering the flu vaccine and the Pfizer and Moderna Bivalent Booster COVID-19 vaccines. These updated COVID-19 boosters provide protection against the original strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. These newer subvariants are more contagious and able to evade protection that your body might have against earlier subvariants. These boosters are for ages 12 and older, to be administered after completion of a monovalent primary series – Moderna, Novavax or Pfizer-BionTech. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/clinical-considerations/interim-considerations-us.html.
The health unit also continues to offer the primary vaccination series of Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer on a walk-in basis and at no charge. The health unit is located at 1425 Malvern Avenue and is open from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday – Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
AFMC, Arkansas Insurance Department, the Salvation Army and the Arkansas Department of Health are partnering to provide a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Hot Springs Salvation Army, 115 Crescent Avenue. No appointments are necessary. Vaccines are provided at no cost, but if you have an insurance card, please bring it. The COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines will be available to individuals ages 12 and older. A parent or guardian must accompany anyone between the ages of 12 – 17. Please have your COVID-19 vaccine card with you if requesting a second or booster dose. If you do not have your vaccine card, you may contact the health unit for a copy. To receive a booster, at least two months must have passed since receiving the initial Pfizer or Moderna series. First doses will also be available.
The Hot Springs/Garland County Covid-19 Task Force is only meeting as needed, but Shelby provides his weekly Covid-19 update electronically to the group.