A Nov. 15 letter signed by more than 270 Arkansas doctors asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to do more to stop the “unchecked” COVID-19 spread, with part of the request including closing bars and gyms and limiting restaurants to take-out only.
The letter said the state’s medical system will be “greatly compromised” if the recent spike in cases is not reversed.
“We are seeing ICUs full of COVID-19 patients. Our hospitals are filling up to the brim, and the virus is continuing to spread unchecked in our communities, meaning that the worst is approaching. Soon we will shoot past our capacity to care for patients. We will need field hospitals, the children’s hospitals will need to take adult patients, and our ability to care for patients with routine emergencies such as trauma patients, heart attacks, and strokes will be greatly compromised. Healthcare providers will become overwhelmed and burn out, as many have already. We will see COVID-19 take the lives of many Arkansans, both directly and indirectly,” the letter noted.
Of the 1,124 ICU beds in the state, there were only 83 available as of 2 p.m. Wednesday according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
The physicians asked Gov. Hutchinson to do the following:
• Enforce a universal mask mandate.
• Close all bars and gyms and limit restaurant service to takeout only.
• Restrict all indoor gatherings to less than 10 people.
“Governor, we are at a crucial point in this pandemic. Arkansas needs strong leadership now more than ever. We, the physicians of Arkansas, implore you to take the necessary steps to save lives, even if they are unpopular steps to take. Countless lives depend upon it,” the letter noted.
In an open letter to “Physicians in Arkansas” dated Nov. 18, Gov. Hutchinson outlined his pandemic-response efforts but did not address the specific requests in the physicians’ letter.
“Please be assured I share your commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Arkansas, and I recognize the importance of maintaining our hospital capacity. I will continue to be guided by the expertise and experience of public health officials and evaluate appropriate actions to mitigate the impact on our hospital capacity,” Gov. Hutchinson noted in his letter.
Adding weight to concerns noted by physicians in the letter was Wednesday’s (Nov. 18) ADH report which showed that COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by six to reach 901, a new daily record. COVID patients on ventilators rose by six to 143, also a new daily record. Active cases totaled 12,611, also a new record for the closely watched category.
Total known confirmed and probable cumulative cases rose by 1,715 to 137,617, and confirmed and probable deaths rose by 30 to 2,275.
COVID REPORT – Nov. 18
New known COVID-19 cases, active cases, tests
• 122,481 known cumulative PCR cases, with 1,260 new community cases and 68 cases in correctional facilities
• 15,136 probable cases, up from 14,749 on Tuesday
• There are 12,611 active cases, up from 12,569 on Tuesday
• There were 9,924 test results provided in the previous 24 hours.
• There were 2,467 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours with 542 positives.
• 2,085, up 28
• 190 probable COVID-related deaths, up 2
901, up 6
143, up 6
The top five counties with new known cases reported Wednesday were: Pulaski (176), Washington (147), White (105), Benton (84), and Craighead (78). The counties accounted for 46.8% of the 1,260 new community cases.
As of Wednesday at 1 p.m., there were 11,419,204 U.S. cases and 249,430 deaths. Globally, there were 55,946,862 cases and 1,344,557 deaths.