Health care provider starts Washington County COVID-19 petition


"Washington County is the hot spot in the state for COVID," Dr. Sharkey said.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Local health care providers say the state needs to step up its COVID-19 response in Northwest Arkansas.

We are woefully behind the 8-ball. If we want to get this under control, and not overwhelm our health care, we gotta get in front of it.


Dr. Martha Sharkey is a local pediatrician.

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, she’s been following the state’s data.

“Washington County is the hot spot in the state for COVID,” she said.

She recently started a petition for more testing and more contact tracing in Washington County.

As of June 3, it has over 1,400 signatures.

“Washington County alone based on our population and the prevalence of COVID-19, we should have 635 contact tracers just for Washington County,” Dr. Sharkey said. “We don’t have that much in the whole state right now.” 

On Thursday, July 2, many Washington County health care providers announced tightened restrictions on who can be tested for COVID-19 due to capacity concerns.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) plans to help those hospitals.

“Dr. Smith at the Arkansas Department of Health has offered to work with them to make sure the people who want a test can have the test done that’s needed,” he said at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing.

Even with ramped-up testing and more contact tracing, Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Stephen Hennigan said it’s not going to help all that much.

“Certainly the CDC is wiser than I am, but my vision, what I see, the cows sorta out of the barn here,” Dr. Hennigan said. “We are better off assuming anyone could have this infection, so wear a mask.” 

With so much left unknown about this virus, there’s one thing everyone agrees on — the only thing we can do is make smart choices when it comes to our health and the health of those around us.

We really need everyone doing their part, every last person needs to be doing their part. 


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