SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Wednesday marked another day of higher-than-normal COVID-19 case numbers. Medical professionals said they fear the new ‘Delta variant’ of the virus may be rapidly infecting unvaccinated Arkansans.
“Particularly in Arkansas, and some of the other Southern states, our vaccination rates are low,” said Dr. Mark Williams, UAMS’ College of Public Health.
Williams said the recent COVID-19 numbers are concerning.
“What we’re seeing is the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19,” Williams said.
Williams said it’s impossible to know how many people in Arkansas are infected by this new variant, but people are still at risk.
“It will infect children under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated at this time,” Williams said.
Springdale’s a city with several big events coming up, including the Rodeo of the Ozarks, and Mayor Doug Sprouse said there are plenty of vaccines in the area for people who want to get one. At this point, if someone hasn’t gotten it, lack of information’s probably not to blame, Sprouse said.
“I think we’re at the point now [where] people are going to take responsibility for ourselves,” Sprouse said. “Certainly, we want to protect the people around us.”
The rodeo and others are all outdoor events, which should help mitigate possible spread, Sprouse said.
“People choose one way or another [to get the vaccine,]” Sprouse said. “They take personal responsibility how they see fit, and we go on living our lives.”
Williams said unvaccinated people carry a lot of risk.
“People that are unvaccinated not only have a higher likelihood of being infected, they’re very infectious when they get infected,” Williams said.
Williams said he thinks the upcoming July 4th weekend could drive numbers even higher.
“COVID loves holidays,” Williams said.
Williams said he wants to send a clear message to people who haven’t yet gotten a shot.
“These vaccines are safe,” Williams said.