FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Department of Health and Human Services reported over 80% of hospital beds are in use in the U.S., as of Thursday.
In Arkansas, over 75% of hospital beds are in use. Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas continues to see high admissions and capacity. However, the hospital is nearing capacity.
The three main illnesses that continue to spread are RSV, flu and COVID-19. While RSV and the flu have been making up a majority of cases, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas is reporting an increase in COVID cases. Last week, cases of the virus increased by 50%.
“Flu remains as the most dominant virus at the moment. However, COVID-19 is now the virus making the largest gains,” said Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas Chief Medical Officer, Sonal Bhakta.
Dr. Gary Berner with Community Clinic said respiratory viruses are taking a toll on schools as well.
“In Northwest Arkansas, I’ve heard of classrooms shut down. So basically, an entire class has to be closed for that particular day or closer to a week. It’s absolutely affecting schools,” said Berner.
Berner said now would be a good time to talk to your child’s school about the plans they have in place.
“If you’re not aware of what your school is doing, it may be worth asking a, gently, question, ‘Are there any steps that you’re already doing to help protect our children during this time, with lots of viruses going around?'” said Berner.
With Christmas gatherings approaching, Berner said it’s important to check in on how you’re feeling. If you have cold symptoms, you shouldn’t be around others. Berner said if you have mild cold symptoms and can’t stay home, you should consider wearing a mask.
With the high rates of illness, Berner said it’s time for people to be concerned.
“We are seeing classrooms affected, we are seeing large groups of populations, entire families affected,” said Berner.