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The original item was published from 11/30/2021 4:29:53 PM to 2/1/2022 12:00:01 AM.

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City of Hot Springs News Releases

Posted on: November 30, 2021

[ARCHIVED] HS/GC COVID Task Force: County has low case numbers while awaiting more data on new variant

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While the world waits for more data on the new COVID-19 variant, omicron, Garland County’s case numbers for the week of Nov. 21-28 included a total new case count of 27 – the lowest the county has had in more than a year.

Garland County Health Officer Dr. Gene Shelby said in the Nov. 29 meeting of the Hot Springs/Garland County COVID-19 Task Force that it is too early to know the significance of the omicron variant. As quickly as new information is being shared globally on the variant, Shelby said we should know a lot more in a week’s time.

He said we need to continue moving forward and promote vaccinations, which is the key factor in the low case numbers as compared to a year ago when the county had 317 new cases for the week and 414 active cases. In his weekly COVID statistical report, he shared the current weekly new case count of 27, down from the previous weekly totals of 54 and 60. He said the number of test results reported last week was 1,215, which is higher than in recent weeks. He said this may be due to a data dump of test results from previous weeks as a holiday week would normally result in fewer tests. The active case count dropped to 63 at the time of the meeting, down 29 from the same time last week. There were no COVID-related deaths reported in the county, leaving the cumulative total at 399.

Shelby said Garland County is faring better than other more populous counties in the state. Pulaski County has approximately nine times as many active cases; Washington County has approximately six times the active cases; Benton County has approximately nearly nine times the active cases.

Area hospitals – CHI St. Vincent and National Park Medical Center – reported a total of 14 COVID patients, with an additional three persons under investigation (PUIs) for the virus. There were three COVID patients in intensive care. One hospital reported two patients being treated for the flu.

Case numbers in the county’s seven public school districts were low at the time of the meeting, but many representatives said they were still waiting for final numbers upon the return from their holiday breaks. Cutter Morning Star School District had two positive student cases and one staff case. Fountain Lake School District reported one student case and one staff case. They hosted a vaccine clinic with 42 students receiving their first dose. The district has implemented the Test-to-Stay Program. Hot Springs School District has one active student case and no staff cases. The district continues to offer the Test-to-Stay option, but many are electing to quarantine at home instead. The district is hosting a second vaccine clinic on Friday so that students have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated before the holiday break. The HSSD Board voted to continue the district’s face mask requirement through December. Jessieville School District has one student case and another student in quarantine. Lake Hamilton School District did not have case data available at the time of the meeting, but shared that the district’s Nov. 17 vaccine clinic provided around 60 first doses to students in all grades. The follow-up clinic is scheduled for Dec. 8. Lakeside School District reported no student or employee cases; the district has one staff member and one student in quarantine. Mountain Pine School District had 93 students in quarantine on Nov. 19, but at the time of this meeting had only one positive student case and two additional students in quarantine.  

National Park College reported having no positive student or employee cases.

The Garland County Health Unit continues to administer the influenza (flu) vaccine, as well as the following COVID vaccines: pediatric and adult-dose Pfizer, and the initial and booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. No appointments are needed for these vaccines.

In the past two weeks, the health unit tested 11 individuals for COVID. They provide free COVID testing until 3 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, and until noon on Fridays. Those wanting a COVID test must park their vehicle in a parking space reserved by a numbered cone, stay inside their vehicle and call 501-624-3394 to inform the representatives which number is indicated on the cone. They continue to offer their full range of health services inside their facility. Along with requiring a face mask to enter, the health unit 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 – Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

The United Way of the Ouachitas has an online application for COVID-19 assistance for area families and individuals affected by the pandemic at 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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