ADH: COVID-19 variants on the rise in Arkansas

KNWA

The race between vaccines and variants is on, but how does COVID-19 testing play into slowing the spread?

NORTHWEST, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — As of Monday, April 19, the Arkansas Department of Health reports at least 35 Arkansans have been identified as having one of the circulating COVID-19 variants.

I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

DR. JENNIFER DILLAHA, STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST, ADH

There are multiple variants circulating globally, but State Epidemiologist Dr. Dillaha said the United Kingdom variant is the state’s biggest concern.

“Not only does it spread more quickly and easily, but it also appears that it causes more severe disease, and increases a person’s risk of dying from COVID-19 if they get that variant,” she said. “We’re seeing it pop up all over the state, so these variants of concern are circulating in multiple counties.”

Dr. Dillaha said right now, it’s a race — vaccines against variants, but looking at the state’s COVID-19 case count you may be wondering: Is the war already over?

Variants are circulating in Arkansas. We do not want to give them the opportunity to cause a surge of cases here.

DR. JENNIFER DILLAHA, STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST, ADH

Northwest Health Family Physician Dr. Blake Hansen said our testing efforts may not be the best measurement in tracking how widespread the COVID-19 virus and these variants are.

“A lot of the healthcare community and resources are focused on vaccinations and probably rightfully so in an attempt to prevent this as much as we can,” Dr. Hansen said. “But there’s still [a need] that comes with test results, it changes the way you act and so I think that’s important.” 

Dr. Hansen said that doesn’t mean testing isn’t vital, though, it just means when it comes to taking the best preventive measure — vaccinations hold the key to this growing problem.

The vaccine is the greatest weapon to try and combat this.

DR. BLAKE HANSEN, FAMILY PHYSICIAN, NW HEALTH

Dr. Dillaha said the current vaccines are protective against these variants.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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