COVID-19 & flu: 2 health concerns surrounding hospital bed capacity

KNWA

"My hope is that this has a positive effect on the flu season and that we go into the rest of the year with less impact."

BENTONVILLE, Ark (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas is reporting its first flu death in the midst of this public health crisis, which sounds the alarm as the state continues to see record numbers of hospitalizations.

This flu season could go one of two ways: one with fewer deaths and fewer cases, or it could be disastrous — health care providers say the future lies in your hands.

We need a mild flu season every year because of how deadly it is and now we’re combining that with a coronavirus pandemic.

DR. GARY BERNER, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, COMMUNITY CLINIC

On Tuesday, October 27, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arkansas reached an all-time new high of 676.

We need to work on getting our cases down to get our hospitalizations down.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, ARKANSAS

Most of our ICU beds are not being occupied by COVID patients. The majority of those beds are being occupied by non-COVID patients.

DR. JOSE ROMERO, ARKANSAS SECY. OF HEALTH

According to the state, we’re not close to the cap on our hospital capacity, but Local Community Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Berner said Arkansas reporting its first flu death worries him.

“I’m very concerned about our patients with diabetes and with lung and heart disease,” he said.

With mask wearing, social distancing, and altogether better hygiene surrounding COVID-19, he’s hopeful it’ll have a positive impact on this year’s flu season.

“Use this information to further highlight the need to implement those practices,” he said.

If it doesn’t though, he fears the whole health care system could be in jeopardy.

“It’s definitely time to get your flu vaccine, there is no reason to wait any longer,” he said.

Dr. Berner said this should also serve as a reminder for people to seek any care they need, as soon as they need it.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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