Gov. Asa Hutchinson eliminated the mask mandate on Tuesday (March 30) and dropped the age to qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine to 16 years old. The changes come as cases and deaths continue to creep upward in Northeast Arkansas.
Two of the top five counties in the state in terms of new cases were in Northeast Arkansas during the last 24 hours, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. St. Francis County reported eight new cases, while Craighead County had seven new reported cases.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020 at least 174 people have died in Craighead County while there have been more than 13,000 positive cases reported. The area’s second most populous county, Greene, has had 6,000 reported cases along with 74 deaths, according to ADH.
Crittenden County, the epicenter of Northeast Arkansas’ initial outbreak, has had at least 5,861 cases with 95 deaths. Mississippi County has reported 5,744 cases to go along with 106 deaths. Independence County has had 3,715 cases with 120 reported deaths.
Many of the deaths in Northeast Arkansas have been connected to nursing homes. As the virus continues to spread, vaccines are now more readily available.
NEA Baptist has been offering walk-in vaccinations every weekday from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at its medical campus and that will extend to all individuals 16 years of age and older, NEA Baptist Marketing Director Ty Jones said. Patients are asked to enter through the main clinic entrance at 4802 E. Johnson Ave. Patients may schedule by clicking this link, by using the MyChart app, or by calling 870-936-7702. Patients can also schedule a vaccination appointment by calling any NEA Baptist Primary Care Clinic located in the region.
St. Bernards will begin offering vaccines to those 16 and older on Thursday (April 1) from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Vaccines will also be offered on Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. Vaccinations will be conducted at the St. Bernards Auditorium on Washington Ave.
Walk-ins do not need an appointment. Any person can schedule a vaccine appointment by contacting St. Bernards at this link.