LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Cases of the flu and other respiratory viruses continue to surge in Arkansas.
Right now, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention score Arkansas 12 on a 13-point scale when it comes to an increase in cases.
The flu, RSV, and COVID-19 are all hitting at the same time and all before the new year. Dr. Robert Hopkins, professor of Internal Medicine at UAMS, explained how unusual the high level of cases was.
“This is the time of the year where we expect some of those things, but we don’t expect it to be this bad, this early,” Hopkins said.
The Jackson family has had it rough this year. Their youngest child was diagnosed with COVID-19, then RSV, the flu and ear infections and the list goes on.
“She’s had over 20 different viruses since June,” Mrs. Jackson said. “I’ve legit been in the hospital once a week to once every two weeks since June.”
Working in healthcare herself, Jackson said she’s never seen anything like this, and it doesn’t seem to be unique to her family.
Peters is a middle school teacher in the Metro. At one-point last month, she said class sizes dwindled down to just four students.
“It’s hard to teach new material to only four and then catch you know 10 or so up when they come back,” Peters said.
Doctors at UAMS said the sudden rise in cases is likely due to the lack of protection against the viruses.
“If you go out into the community, you might see one mask, if you walk around for 30 minutes or an hour,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins said people have let their guard down and if things don’t change soon, rates could continue upward and reveal a piece of the past.
“Hospitals are going to be stressed with having enough to provide the care that we would like to provide to patients who are ill,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins said the best way to keep sickness away from your household is to get vaccinated.
Right now, Hopkins said the state has vaccination rates of about 20 to 45 percent. He said that’s too low if Arkansans want to stay protected against the flu.