FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – On Friday, Arkansas’ COVID-19 case count rose by 17,000. A statistic we haven’t seen since September.  

Fayetteville City’s Health Officer, Dr. Marti Sharkey, believes there are several factors playing into this third wave of COVID-19. 

“Holiday travel and Omicron, there’s a lot more of that variant present in the Natural State than we are aware of and has been reported. We expected to take off, and we’re starting to see that,” says Dr. Sharkey

I asked Dr. Sharkey if she believes the surge will continue after the holidays.  

“The cases are going to go up. We’ve seen that in New York, London, South Africa,” says Dr. Sharkey. 

While the Omicron variant and rising cases are concerning for at-risk populations and schools, Dr. Sharkey says she is again concerned about hospital capacities.  

“We want to keep our hospitals as empty as possible and our healthcare workers as healthy as possible. If they have to go into quarantine or self-isolation, it will have a dire impact on our ability to help the community,” says Dr. Sharkey. 

Dr. Sharkey says the best way to help yourself and hospital staff is by getting vaccinated or getting boosted if you had your last dose six months ago.