Health experts concerned for kids in Arkansas as new COVID-19 cases reach record-breaking levels


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Arkansas sees a record-breaking number of new Covid-19 cases today-with kids becoming more affected by the virus.

According to Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas is below the national average in the state for kids 5-to-11 getting vaccinated, and more and more kids are showing up to the emergency room with Covid-like illnesses.

“Today, sadly, we have the highest daily increase in cases since the pandemic started,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said in his press conference Thursday.

Dr. Romero referenced a report that shows how many kids are making visits to the emergency room with Covid-like-illnesses on a weekly basis. The most recent report showed about 220 ER visits in kids ages 0 to 4 in a week, and then about 100 visits in kids 5 to 17.

“I want to show that we are starting to see an increase in the number of children that are being seen in the emergency room,” Dr. Romero said.

Community Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Berner is seeing the consequences for kids firsthand.

“It’s honestly kind of heartbreaking to see this surge again,” he said.

Dr. Berner said he is extremely concerned about what Omicron will look like in our pediatric population.

“There could be further get-togethers this weekend and then the potential return to school, so it is going to be hugely vital that we continue to promote speaking with your primary care doctor about vaccination,” Dr. Berner said.

Now, kids are about to head back to the classroom in a few days after winter break. Governor Asa Hutchinson said it will also be up to the schools to decide how to protect students.

“Schools should consider what needs to be done for the health of students, the department of health stands by to assist,” the governor said.

Earlier this year, Rogers and Fayetteville School Districts decided to base their mask mandates off the Arkansas Centers for Health Improvement maps that show the number of infections in every district across the state. As of now, both districts have met the threshold they originally decided would require masks again. A spokesperson for the Fayetteville School District said the board will meet Monday to discuss the matter. KNWA/FOX24 has not yet heard back from Rogers.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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