FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Monday, the Northwest Arkansas COVID-19 Task Force reported that the Northwest Arkansas Health Care Community had seen a 154% increase in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the month. 

While the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations is concerning, pulmonary and critical care physician for Mercy Hospital, Jason McKinney, MD, said the number he believes will turn heads is 100% of hospitalizations at Mercy are unvaccinated.  

“What this tells us is people who made a poor choice not to get vaccinated are paying the price,” said McKinney. “When you look at where we have come from in the past year, it is very concerning the rate at which we are growing.” 

We asked McKinney if he feels this is the beginning of a second wave in the natural state, he feels we’re trending in a direction he has seen before, but the scenario is far from the same. 

“Distancing, masking, hand washing that was the answer. Now we have a different answer. It’s called a very staff vaccine,” said McKinney. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha agrees the solution here is simple.  

“We would need a much higher level of immunity to stop the spread than what we have right now,” said Dillaha. 

McKinney said many he cares for wish they would have taken the simple steps. 

“A big percentage of those who are still able to talk tell me that you know I wish I could go back and make my decision over again, I can tell I’ve made a very poor decision,” said McKinney. 

McKinney adds his most significant concern is having to relive what we’ve been through in the last year. So he urges anyone who may be on the fence to have an honest conversation with their primary doctor to sort out what fact and what’s not.