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The original item was published from 7/14/2020 12:05:42 PM to 12/9/2020 2:28:26 PM.

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City of Hot Springs News Releases

Posted on: July 14, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Garland County positivity rate rises to 6.4%

homepage news - Covid task force

Although the number of new and active cases in Garland County has plateaued, the positive rate of infection among the 732 tests done between July 5-12 rose to 6.4%, up from the previous week’s 2.7%.

Garland County Health Officer Dr. Gene Shelby shared at the Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Task Force virtual meeting on July 13 that the number of active cases in the county was down from last week’s 75 to 65, and the number being monitored by the Arkansas Department of Health, which includes possible contacts, was down from 98 to 91. There were also two additional deaths reported in the county in the past week, making the cumulative total three.

Representatives with the hospitals in Hot Springs reported that they continue to receive transfers from counties across the southwest region of the state, and have even received transfer requests from hospitals in Texas. As in the past two weeks, their COVID-19 numbers are still up. CHI St. Vincent currently has its highest number of virus patients since the pandemic started. “We continue to see more patients, many of which are in critical condition. We also continue to provide a safe environment for patients, visitors and coworkers,” a CHI task force representative said, adding that they encourage the wearing of masks and social distancing in the community.

The length of stay for some COVID-19 patients could potentially create resource issues, but both hospitals reported they currently have enough beds, ICU units and personal protective equipment (PPE). Rapid test supplies are in short supply, though, and thus are being rationed for use by hospitals to faster identify positive or negative cases. The Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Call Center (501-760-4307) has seen an increase in calls, and particularly with residents requesting where rapid tests are being administered. If the rapid test supplies are depleted for less-critical needs, such as those needing a negative test result to travel, hospitals would have to isolate more patients while they await test results, which would also require the use of more PPE.

LifeNet reported an increase of calls with patients experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms.

The Garland County Health Unit had their highest number of test samples collected in a week, at 84. They also reported that the Arkansas Department of Health is using text messaging to notify individuals of their test results.

A member of the task force was pleased to have noticed this past week at a local retail store that more people than not were wearing face masks. Shelby said that even though the numbers in Garland County seem to currently be stable, we need to continue to make sure everyone follows the guidelines. A question arose about face masks for indoor meetings, and Shelby recommended that all attendees keep their face masks on throughout the meeting, even if social distancing is maintained. Also, if a business gets word that someone has tested positive for the virus after recently visiting their establishment, Shelby said that does not necessarily mean that employees should be concerned about virus-transmittable contact, in terms of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC defines a potential COVID-19 contact as being indoors for at least 15 minutes, and within the six-foot social distancing area.

Steve Arrison, of Visit Hot Springs, said there are still many who confuse reports of COVID-19 cases in Hot Spring County, primarily from the Ouachita River Unit prison, as being cases in the City of Hot Springs.

The United Way of the Ouachitas application for individuals and families who have suffered loss of employment as a result of COVID-19 is online at Applicants can choose for assistance in several categories, including food, rent, utility bills, medical/prescription costs and costs for gas or public transportation. To donate to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, visit, call 501-623-2505 or send a check by mail at 233 Hobson Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71913.

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