Excerpts of Today’s Media Update
We’re highlighting portions of the media update that seem relevant, but we encourage you to watch the full update. If you find a part that seems like it should be called out here, let us know.
More detailed excerpts will be added once time allows.
- Pulaski County was the highest for new cases today.
- Low reported test results from ADH is due to a data entry issue. Those will be added later.
- Northwest Arkansas administrators said “It’s tight” or “It’s close.” when referring to hospital capacity. Unclear if that was today or during the past peak in hospital utilizations.
- Yesterday’s increase in cases in correctional facilities comes from the Ouachita River Unit.
- Overall percent positive rate for Washington County is 22%. Unusual distribution of cases.
- 72% of cases are in individuals 44 and under, which points to the fact that these are individuals that are engaged in work, acquiring virus in community and possibly spreading it at worksites.
- 17.9% of cases are in children. National trend is 2-3%. Represents likely spread within in tight-knit family units.
- 11% of deaths have come from this county. 60% of those are in the Marshallese community.
- Washington Regional President and CEO J. Larry Shackelford says the National Guard have been put in their call center. Eight nurses have been able to return to direct patient care. Hopes that hospital volume will decrease in the 30 days they have the National Guard members.
- Washington Regional had a spike a week and a half ago, 40 COVID-positive patients, 16 of those were on ventilators. They’ve seen a high number of ICU patients. They’ve been able to meet that. Their trends are better this week.
- Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas CEO Eric Pianalto encourages Arkansans to not delay care. They’ve seen large numbers of very sick non-COVID patients, due to that delay of care. Mercy peaked at 45 COVID patients about two weeks ago. Now down to mid-twenties.
- The additional $600 in pandemic unemployment benefits expires at the end of the week. Congress is considering an extension.
- 20,000 unemployment claims under review for potential fraud. Additional staff have been hired to get through that backlog.
- There is still a lag between between coroners/hospitals and ADH reporting. Dr. Romero says he’s still getting calls from hospitals reporting deaths that occurred more than 72 hours prior to the day they call.
- Fax machines are being used to transmit information. Coroners are asking if email can be used. Dr. Romero says HIPAA is a concern, maintaining the confidentiality. He will talk to his staff to see if that is an option.
- What does Washington County need to do to get the positivity down to the state average? We all need to socially distance, wear masks. Exercise personal responsibility. These are proven steps that have a beneficial impact.
- Governor won’t close businesses again because there is no data showing a connection between new cases and lifting restrictions.
- Hospitals are hiring new nurses to relieve the burden on current nurses.
- Governor did read the ARAAP statement. Says he saw a number of the things we have implemented. Others need to be discussed to determine whether they should be addressed.
- “In terms of the mask requirement, we have — if their suggestion is that we should have a mandate for all the children in the school at all hours, that they should wear a mask, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Because if you have a class of 28 students, and you put them in the gymnasium so they could socially distance adequately and there’s more than adequate space from the teacher, then they’re getting a break from wearing a mask right in the middle of the day. I don’t think that’s a decision that we ought to make in Little Rock. I think that there ought to be some flexibility for the social distancing and the environment that the students are in. So, some schools have made that mandate. Others are looking at some of the social distancing requirements. I think there has to be some flexibility there. We’ll continue to look at it. But I talked to the school administrators today and I think that they understand the need for having some local flexibility on that point.”
Note: The ARAAP statement did not specifically advocate for masks at all times, regardless of social distancing.
Relevant excerpt from the statement:
K-12 Mandatory Masks. ARAAP thanks Governor Hutchinson for his statewide face mask mandate. ARAAP suggests an even stronger requirement in schools for mandatory K-12 student and teacher masks, with strong consideration given to requiring them for Pre-k 3 and 4. Perfection is not required, but masks are the state’s best tool to prevent spread. The AAP suggests most children age 2 and older can safely wear masks and recognizes there are exemptions.
- Governor appears to dismiss significance of UAMS model, which is specific to Arkansas, using Arkansas data. Cites national models. Points out the moving peak in the UAMS models. Based on his comments, the state’s decision-making process does not appear to take predictive modeling into account, only current data.
- Governor says we need in-class instruction so that parents do not need financial assistance for the remote learning days.
- State has funding in DHS set aside for child care that working parents can access. That doesn’t help parents who aren’t working because their children are engaged in remote learning rather than at their in-class setting. No state plan to cover that need.
- Governor says you start school in the classroom. If there is a positive case, ADH will help guide the school’s response to that. Positivity rate in the community helps ADH to know what the response should be.
- Dr. Romero: “I also think it’s important to bear in mind that children are not spreaders. So, they are not — they’ve not been shown to be very effective in spreading the virus. And that’s particularly in children under 10 years of age. Newer data suggests that those children 10 and older may be more capable of spreading it. And similarly, as you get into an adolescent — older adolescent like an adult. So, in essence, they’re not high-risk for anyone in particular or for spreading it in their classroom environment, the younger they are.”
Note: If school-age children range from age 5 to age 17, almost two-thirds of the school population would be children age 10 and older.
- Since Dr. Romero says that the virus behaves differently in children ages 5-9 vs. 10-17, has the state considered breaking up the data for children to reflect that difference, so that school districts can make better decisions, since it is currently all grouped as 0-17?
- Governor says they’ll think about it.
- Reporter asks about reports that poultry plant workers are being told to return to work three days after testing positive. Governor says you’d have to give the name of the person and the employer, and he’d be glad to check into it.
- General Dynamics has hired their contact tracing staff. Over 1,000 cases have been assigned to them. As soon as we have legislative approval, the second contract can be initiated.