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As Arkansas continues seeing declining COVID cases, more kids are getting sick

Dr. José Romero
Governor's Office

Arkansas continues seeing declining COVID-19 cases, with active cases and hospitalizations dropping to levels not seen in months. But officials are expressing alarm at the growing number of cases involving children, many old enough to be vaccinated.

The Arkansas Department of Health on Wednesday reported active cases had declined by 217 people since Tuesday for a total of 7,879. Six additional deaths were included in the daily report, along with 882 new cases of people testing positive for the virus.

Hospitalizations decreased by 40, with 624 people being treated. 173 of those patients were on ventilators, a decrease of 15.

During a press conference Wednesday, Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. José Romero showed data comparing cases in January with cases in July. He said there was an 84.4% increase in pediatric hospitalizations and a 63.6% increase in Intensive Care Unit admissions as the delta variant spreads through the state.

Romero said even though the numbers didn’t reach statistically significant values, it shows more kids needing intensive care treatment. He is encouraging parents to allow kids who are old enough to get vaccinated.

“I want parents to understand that there is a vaccine available for those individuals ages 12-to-18,” he said. “That is the way to prevent this type of admission.”

Romero also praised schools that are requiring the wearing of masks and quarenting when possible exposure occurs.

“We want to prevent transmission of this virus to those very susceptible individuals, and more so for those children under 12 years of age who we do not have a vaccine for,” Romero said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said one private school in the state reached the 70% vaccination level for students and staff enabling it to not require quarantines after possible exposures. He also announced four school districts, Russellville, Springdale, Cabot and Bentonville, will be taking part in a pilot program to use regular testing rather than quarantines.

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