Snow plus COVID-19 equals ‘Snow-VID 2021’
Winter weather add another layer to already complicated coronavirus pandemic
email@example.com While there may be some truth to the idea that at least the ice, snow and frigid temperatures might actually be helping slow the spread of COVID-19, Northeast Arkansas’ ongoing battle with severe winter weather is making things harder for emergency responders, health officials and folks trying to take care of sick loved ones. Officials across the state have issued directives to residents to continue to consider the ongoing coronavirus pandemic when dealing with the hazardous conditions.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver used the term “snow-vid” to describe the double whammy of the pandemic and the winter storm last week.
“As COVID persists, even during ‘snow-vid,’ we can’t take our eye off the pandemic. Our medical leadership is working on a mass vaccination event that we hope we can announce soon,” Copenhaver said.
West Memphis has been struggling to get a planned COVID-19 vaccination clinic off for two weeks now. A thousand doses of the vaccine are ready to distribute but the ice and snow have made it very difficult to actually hold the clinic.
“We do not want to bring our residents out in these icy conditions, we have crews working to keep our residents safe, and the roads as clear as possible,” said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon.
All of Northeast Arkansas is dealing with similar circumstances.
“We know that COVID is still being spread in our area and must remain vigilant if we want to see a true end to this pandemic,” said Jonesboro Medical Director Dr. Shane Speights said earlier this month. “Testing is also the only way we can identify new COVID variants that might come into our state and we know that ultimately will occur.”
Heaps of snow and ice also caused the closure of several Arkansas Department of Health units, which also offer free testing.
There does appear to be some slowing of the number of new cases. Arkansas reported 26 new deaths Wednesday from the coronavirus and a drop in hospitalizations as this week’s winter weather appeared to keep the state’s new cases down.
Beyond weather-related decreases, the rolling average number of daily new cases over the past two weeks in Arkansas has decreased by nearly 57 percent, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
And on Thursday, Arkansas health officials reported just 10 additional deaths from the coronavirus as this week's snowstorms continued to slow vaccinations and testing.
The Department of Health reported Arkansas' COVID19 deaths now total 5,323.
The state's new virus cases grew by only 253 to 314,445. COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 23 to 625.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Arkansas has decreased by nearly 63%, according to figures compiled by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
'Our vaccine numbers have slowed over the past few days, and we anticipate these numbers to increase once the roads clear up
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Photo courtesy of CEMS SNOW-VID (cont.)
throughout the state,' Governor Hutchinson said in statement. 'We hope that vaccine uptake will continue among those who are eligible. I ask that, once it's your turn, you roll up your sleeve and help protect your community.'
The Health Department reported 493,776 of the 752,525 coronavirus vaccine doses the state has received have been given so far.
Recognizing the decrease in newly reported coronavirus cases statewide, Governor Hutchinson announced that ADH’s directives regarding events were amended. Events with 100 or fewer attendees will not require an approved plan by the department to be held, Hutchinson said.
Previously, any event with 10 or more participants needed ADH approval.
Athletic tournaments are also permitted, but a plan must be submitted to the health department. The host school must enforce preventative rules, he said.
Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county through Friday morning: Clay: 32 active cases, 1,578 recoveries, 45 deaths.
Craighead: 256 active cases, 12,198 recoveries, 174 deaths.
Crittenden: 135 active cases, 5,384 recoveries, 92 deaths.
Cross: 31 active cases, 1,800 recoveries, 47 deaths.
Greene: 111 active cases, 5,568 recoveries, 74 deaths.
Jackson: 23 active cases, 3,068 recoveries, 33 deaths.
Lawrence: 40 active cases, 1,905 recoveries, 41 deaths.
Mississippi: 128 active cases, 5,260 recoveries, 112 deaths.
Poinsett: 61 active cases, 2,914 recoveries, 75 deaths.
Randolph: 27 active cases, 1,834 recoveries, 49 deaths.
Sharp: 21 active cases, 1,438 recoveries, 50 deaths.
The governor’s statewide mask mandate remains in effect in all public places.
ADH officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large crowds as the weather and road conditions improve.
The temperature is not expected to fall below freezing this week, with daytime highs in the lowto- mid 50s and overnight