UAMS: Hospitalizations among younger Arkansans on the rise

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"We are now seeing greater increases in hospitalizations in patients who are 18 to 34 or 17 and younger."

NORTHWEST, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Hospitalizations continue to soar in the Natural State and new UAMS models suggest younger Arkansans are starting to be affected.

The stress on the system is real.

DR. JERRILYN JONES, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH 

UAMS College of Public Health Dean Mark Williams said new models have continued to show the largest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations are in adults 60 to 64.

He said there’s another age group on their radar, though.

“What is equally I think distributing is that we are now seeing greater increases in hospitalizations in patients who are 18 to 34 or 17 and younger,” Williams said.

The UAMS report states:

“Young adults 18 to 34 will have an additional 70 persons hospitalized by Jan. 18. Children younger than 17 will also a 10% increase in hospitalizations over the next two weeks. We should expect 27 additional children hospitalized, an increase of 10% over the previous two weeks.”

Williams said due to the rate of community spread, it’s hard to pinpoint why this is happening.

“Those numbers just like the other numbers eventually will begin to grow expediently as the pandemic continues and the spread of the virus continues throughout the population,” he said.

Dr. Jerrilyn Jones with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) said with more people being hospitalized, healthcare workers are being stretched thin.

“At a certain point there will be no more people to take care of patients,” she said. “It can be very devastating if we get there.”

So far, Arkansas has not experienced a break in its healthcare system, but if these hospitalizations pan out — it might only be a matter of time.

“We don’t want to end up looking like New York,” Dr. Jones said. “Part of my fear is that it will take seeing tents and fields and all of that type of stuff before people believe that this is real.” 

It’s not something we can hide from any more or ignore.

DR. MARK WILLIAMS, DEAN, UAMS COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH

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