Fort Smith highest among five Arkansas cities for COVID-19 risks

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 7,993 views 

Of the five Arkansas cities in a 500-city “dashboard” that measures COVID-19 risks, Fort Smith ranks the highest in Arkansas at 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, according to data provided Wednesday (July 8) by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI).

The ranking means Fort Smith residents are at the highest risk among residents in the five cities of being infected with COVID-19 and having severe health outcomes because of the infection. Information used in the “City Health Dashboard” ranking includes socioeconomic status, age, and underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

After Fort Smith, Little Rock ranks 8, Jonesboro ranks 7, Springdale is 6, and Fayetteville is ranked at 3. The average among the 500 cities is 5.5.

“COVID-19 is not impacting all groups equally,” ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson said in a statement. “For example, Blacks make up nearly 30% of cases and deaths in the U.S., despite only accounting for 16% of the population. The public health response to this pandemic must take into account the higher risk that some communities face because of social determinants of health, or ZIP code risk. We thank City Health Dashboard for providing this useful tool.”

City Health Dashboard uses data from the American Community Survey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities Project and Social Vulnerability Index. According to ACHI, cities with the highest risk on the dashboard are not necessarily cities with the highest numbers of cases.

“Importantly, the index does not account for all risks associated with COVID-19 or predict exposure. For example, there are currently more active cases in Fayetteville than in Fort Smith; however, Fayetteville has better outcomes on several measures used to calculate the index and therefore has a lower index value than Fort Smith,” the organization noted on its blog.

As of July 7, Sebastian County (Fort Smith) had 634 cumulative cases, 262 active cases and 7 deaths. Pulaski County (Little Rock) had 2,522 cumulative cases, 735 active cases and 62 deaths. Craighead County (Jonesboro) had 485 cumulative cases, 53 active cases and 7 deaths. Washington County (Fayetteville and Springdale) had 4,171 cumulative cases, 932 active cases and 34 deaths.

Based in Little Rock, ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center focused on improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development.

Talk Business and Politics requested comment from hospital officials in Fort Smith, and will update this story if a comment is received.

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