ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A local city made headlines around the country after a national broadcast featured it in predictions for cities where the next COVID-19 wave could be intense. Officials in Arkansas disputed the claims made in the report.
MSNBC Steve Kornacki is a national political correspondent, and he was featured this week in a segment that listed cities emerging as COVID-19 hotspots. Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Atlanta and Miami were all displayed on a map pulled up on a television monitor. The segment then moved to project where the next wave of major activity could be, and Rogers was listed among other cities.
“Then the question becomes, ‘where might we be having this conversation?'” Kornacki said.
The predictions were based on “rate of increase” over the past week, Kornacki said, and not raw numbers.
The area’s international travel scene and a large, growing population initially caused concern in the area, Dr. Nate Smith, Dept. of Health secretary, said in his daily briefing alongside Gov. Asa Hutchinson. But he’s seen positive things that’ve eased that fear.
“Northwest Arkansas has always been an area that we’ve been looking at very carefully,” Smith said. “So far, we’ve not seen an escalation in the number of cases. I think the people there are very concerned and are taking pretty significant actions in terms of social distancing.”
Rogers Mayor Greg Hines largely dismissed Kornacki’s information, calling it an unneeded source of fear. He questioned the news outlet’s credibility while sharing his disbelief.
“Our U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative from the 3rd District and the state are from Rogers, and our governor’s from Rogers,” Hines said. “This liberal media outlet could very well just be throwing a potshot out there.”
Rogers continues to take necessary steps to bend the curve, Hines said, both in private and public sectors. Cases will go up, he said, but he sees nothing that indicates a massive spike in Rogers.
“It’s hard sometimes to step back and say, okay, wait a minute…now who is it that said that, and what makes them more of an expert than folks at the CDC or Arkansas’ Health Department?” Hines said.