LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – There have been 22,136 new COVID-19 cases in Arkansas since January 1.

The number of cases, in the amount of time, make contact tracing very difficult to follow up with.  So the Department of Health will no longer be conducting tracing for adults in Arkansas and will shift their focus to school-aged children only. 

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with ADH said trying to keep up with the number of cases right now is not practical.

“It’s not possible for the contact tracers to ramp up and hire new people so quickly.  By the time that happens we may be on the downhill side of this spike,” she said.

She said she hopes the effort to find children’s contacts will allow schools to remain open and the fact is those 18 and under are still one of the more susceptible age groups.

“One of the most vulnerable groups is those children who cannot yet be vaccinated as well as those who have not had the opportunity to become fully vaccinated,” Dr. Dillaha explained.

With schools just now resuming after the holidays there has not been a surge in omicron cases in those age groups, yet.

“We anticipate that we will see a great increase in the number of students infected after school starts,” Dr. Dillaha warned.

The onus of being safe and notifying those who may have been exposed now falls on to the general public and businesses.  Dr. Dillaha recommends businesses be up-to-date on all CDC guidance on actions to take if exposed or positive.

She said the public is well aware of how to protect themselves from spreading and contracting the virus and action is needed now more than ever.

ADH will reevaluate its contact tracing policy in the future.