U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford has announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement released Monday, Crawford is fully vaccinated against the virus, and he plans to remain in Jonesboro this week, having tested positive last week, adding that he intends to vote by proxy for the week ahead.

Crawford also included the following political statement centered around his health: “Along with others in my immediate family, I’ve had no major symptoms, feel well and expect no complications. They said it couldn’t be done, but President Trump’s Operation Warpspeed drove the creation of three COVID vaccines in under a year. Combined with the milder Omicron variant, these advances enable me to remain focused on fighting to retake control of the US House of Representatives, where Nancy Pelosi and her socialist allies are working overtime to spend money we don’t have to pay people not to work and ramp up inflation to levels not seen in 30 years.”

Arkansas on Friday reported 8,434 new COVID-19 cases, the fourth day in a row it reached a new record for a one-day increase.

The true number of cases, however, is likely higher due to people testing at home or who are infected but haven’t been tested.

On Saturday a total of 8,171 new cases were reported statewide.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 grew by 37 to 970. The state reported 16 new COVID-19-deaths.

The Arkansas Department of Health reports 1,045 active cases in Greene County.

Counties with the most new cases reported on Saturday were: Pulaski with 1,482; Benton with 636; and Washington with 606.

The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus. However, early studies show omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, and vaccination and a booster still offers strong protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement urges residents and employers to take steps to prevent the virus’ spread, including limiting in-person meetings, requiring masks indoors and allowing work-from-home options.

A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that just 37 percent of Americans name the virus as one of their top five priorities for the government to work on in 2022, compared with 53 percent who said it was a leading priority at the same time a year ago. The economy outpaced the pandemic in the open-ended question, with 68 percent of respondents mentioning it in some way as a top 2022 concern. A similar percentage said the same last year, but mentions of inflation are much higher now: 14 percent this year, compared with less than 1 percent last year.

Consumer prices jumped 6.8 percent for the 12 months ending in November, a nearly four-decade high. Meanwhile, roughly twice as many Americans now mention their household finances, namely, the cost of living, as a governmental priority, 24 percent vs. 12 percent last year.

The poll was conducted in early December, when worries about the virus were rising as omicron took hold in the country, but before it sparked record caseloads, overwhelmed testing sites and hospitals and upended holiday travel.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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