TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: More contagious COVID-19 variant found in Arkansas

KNWA

"It's a race… vaccines versus variants," Dr. Sharkey said.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The announcement of a more contagious COVID-19 variant found in Arkansas comes after Governor Asa Hutchinson changed the state’s directives to guidelines.

I think that we can win this race, and I’m hopeful that we will.

DR. MARTI SHARKEY, FAYETTEVILLE CITY HEALTH OFFICER

Fayetteville City Health Officer Dr. Marti Sharkey said she’s not surprised the UK variant is in the Natural State.

She said the question now is though — How long has it been here and how far has it spread?

“It’s a race… vaccines versus variants,” Dr. Sharkey said. “The more vaccines that we can get into people’s arms, the less this virus can transmit, the less chance of more mutations and variants appearing, and the more we can control this.”

Dr. Sharkey said Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are thought to be highly effective against the UK variant.

[The vaccines] prevent and neutralize this virus, so they’re effective.

DR. MARTI SHARKEY, FAYETTEVILLE CITY HEALTH OFFICER

With Governor Asa Hutchinson recently changing COVID-19 directives to recommendations though, Dr. Sharkey worries this more contagious variant could bring us back to square one.

“Don’t change your behavior now, we’re close,” she said. “We’re nearing the finish line in this marathon, now is not the time to give up.”

KNWA/FOX 24 reached out to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), asking on behalf of the safety of Arkansans if they could tell us — Where in the state this variant was found and if the person had traveled?

The ADH said they could not provide that information.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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