Baptist Health-Fort Smith reopened COVID unit, recent case numbers declining

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,448 views 

Recent Increased numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in the Fort Smith area led to the reopening of a COVID unit at at least one area hospital, but numbers are already dropping, according to one physician.

The Arkansas Department of Health COVID dashboard listed 801 known active COVID cases in Sebastian County Tuesday (July 19). Crawford County had 303 known active cases. There were 16,742 known active cases throughout the state.

While this is dramatically lower than the 2,621 active cases in Sebastian County about seven months ago on Jan. 14 when the more transmittable Omicron variant of COVID-19 was sweeping through the state, the recent uptick in numbers of infected patients led Baptist Health-Fort Smith to reopen its COVID unit last week, according to a hospital official.

As of Tuesday, there were 18 COVID patients at Baptist Health-Fort Smith, said Alicia Agent hospital marketing manager. Nine of those patients are in a COVID critical care unit. Six of those are on ventilators. Baptist Health Van Buren had no COVID patients as of Tuesday.

Those numbers were not much different from Thursday (July 14) when there were 19 COVID patients at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. Of those, six were in a COVID critical care unit, where two were on ventilators. There were none at Baptist Health Van Buren.

On Friday (July 15), there were 10 COVID-positive patients hospitalized at Mercy Fort Smith with four in the intensive care unit, said Mardi Taylor, senior media relations and communications specialist with Mercy Fort Smith. While there were still 10 COVID-positive patients hospitalized at Mercy Tuesday, there was only one in ICU, she said.

“We’ve seen a significant uptick in cases in our ERs but not many people are requiring hospitalization. We’re not seeing a capacity issue at the moment,” said Rep. Dr. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood. Johnson is also the medical director for Fort Smith EMS and Southwest EMS and a practicing emergency room physician. Johnson said he is seeing fewer cases this week and thinks the virus peaked in the area last week.

Statewide, the ADH reported Tuesday that new known COVID cases continued rising with more than 1,000 reported in a day. The ADH reported 1,735 new cases Tuesday. There are 16,742 known active cases throughout the state, according to the ADH dashboard. There are 436 COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas, an increase of one since Monday.

There was also one more patient on a ventilator in the state, bringing the total number to 14. There were 17 reported in ICU with COVID, down one from Monday.