How is Greene County doing as far as COVID-19 is concerned?

As of Nov. 9, there were 334 active cases in Greene County and 1,932 total COVID-19 cases, according to hospital CEO Barry Davis. According to hospital Chief Nursing Officer Lana Williams, there have been 23 deaths in Greene County attributed to COVID as of that date, for an overall 1.19 percent mortality rate.

“We do know other people have died after the COVID recovery period is complete,” she said, “but there is no data available confirming these deaths as related to COVID complications.”

By comparison, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Nov. 11, there have been 124,235 total COVID cases in Arkansas, with 2,112 deaths. The state mortality is 1.7 percent.

Nationally, there have been 10,170,846 total COVID cases as of Nov. 11, with 239,590 total deaths. The overall mortality rate in the United States is 2.36 percent.

On the other hand, figures from Davis indicate the spread of the disease in Greene County since June has been very rapid. As of June 1 there were a total of 64 cases (32 active). The number nearly doubled by July 1 to 114 (25 active), and more than tripled to 383 (including 60 inmates of the Greene County Detention Center) as of Aug. 3, of which 165 (counting those jail inmates) were active.

By Sept. 1 the numbers increased by almost two thirds, to 634 (64 active), while by Oct. 1, the number increased by nearly half, to 909 (100 active cases). By Nov. 2, COVID cases in the county had again nearly doubled, to 1,666 (297 active) and in just one week (to Nov. 9) increased another 15 percent, to 1,932 as noted above.

Davis also cleared up some confusion regarding how long a person who’s been in close contact with a COVID-positive person must remain quarantined after contact.

“If you come in contact with a person who tests positive,” he said, “the Centers for Disease Control recommends that you stay home and monitor your health for a period of 14 days from contact.” Davis also recommended that anyone who shows symptoms during that period be tested five to eight days after initial contact.

Williams said the hospital will take extra precautions regarding people who have tested positive for COVID and need surgery, x-rays, procedures or admission to the hospital.

“First, it is important to know, not seeking treatment for medical conditions or needed surgical procedures can cause complications and death,” she said. “As reported by the [CDC], an estimated 41 percent of U.S. adults reported having delayed or avoided medical care during the pandemic because of concerns about COVID-19, including 12 percent who reported having avoided urgent or emergency care.”

Williams also said that according to the CDC, delaying or avoiding medical care could increase morbidity and mortality risk associated with treatable and preventable health conditions, and might contribute to reported excess deaths directly or indirectly related to the coronavirus.

“Safety is a priority at AMMC,” Williams said. “The most noticeable precaution a COVID positive person can expect is for the medical staff to be dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE).” PPE, she said, protects the healthcare provider as well as the next patient the medical staff treats. Other precautions, she said, may include extra PPE for the patient, patient location within the facility, timing of treatments or testing, and the limitation of visitors or family care-givers.

Davis added AMMC has developed a 14-bed COVID unit specifically designed for negative air pressure (to prevent the escape of air containing the virus) and necessary air filtration.

“COVID positive patients are generally admitted to this area for care,” he said. “Visitation is restricted in this unit.” He said all medical personnel attending COVID patients wear PPE including special masks, face shields and gowns.

“COVID is a very serious virus that is very contagious,” Williams said, noting the virus affects individuals differently. “If you suspect you have COVID or have been around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID, please seek the advice of your doctor.”

Williams also said such people need to quarantine from others by staying home and, in a home with others, need to stay in a different room from them. Anyone wishing an appointment for testing may call the AMMC COVID-19 hotline at (870) 573-4223, or visit the hospital website, https://www.myammc.org/covid-19-plan, for recommendations on preventing the spread of the virus and other valuable information.

How has COVID affected unemployment in the county?

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Economic Research division of the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis, Greene County experienced a dramatic spike in unemployment followed by a steady decrease. In November 2019 (the first month the coronavirus was known to exist, in Wuhan, China), the county unemployment was 3 percent.

In January and February, 2020, the rate had climbed to 4.1 percent, while in March (the start of state restrictions on long-term care facilities) it increased to 4.3 percent. In April (the start of state restrictions on gatherings) the rate skyrocketed to 10.6 percent, the second highest rate in the 30 years of available Federal Reserve statistics and the highest since 13.4 percent in January 2009.

The rate began a decline in May (coinciding with the beginning of relaxation of restrictions imposed earlier), to 9.7 percent, and the decline accelerated in June to 8.6 percent, to 7.1 percent in July, 6.6 percent in August and 6.1 percent in September (the last month for which figures are available).

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