301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

12.24.20 – WREG – LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

COVID cases continue to climb in Arkansas, and as hospitals get closer to capacity, the state government is stepping in. There will be more restrictions and new intensive care facilities coming in 2021.

Cases continue to skyrocket and it’s putting a strain on the system. Just last week, the healthcare system only had 37 beds available in intensive care units across the state.

It’s an ominious trend ahead of the holidays.

“We don’t know what the rest of December is going to be like,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. “We don’t know what January is going to be like, because we don’t know what Christmas is going to be like.”

Expecting a post-Christmas and new year surge, the state is spending $7.4 million in alternate care sites to handle a new wave of hospital and ICU patients. Approximately 124 new beds will be made available after its completion.

“This will be managed by our COVID comm system, so that we can allocate to this additional spaces, patients that are in need,” said Hutchinson.

The state will also begin harsher restrictions starting January 2, including limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people unless approved through safety guidelines.

While elected officials admitted that Arkansas residents are likely to celebrate the holidays together, they’re hopeful that restraint and proper safety practices will soften January numbers as the vaccine is distributed.

“Use the mask even when indoors,” advised Dr. Jose Romero. “Wear the mask, continue to social distance. We’re seeing a lot of transmission in these small gatherings in homes.”

“We hope that everybody will be vigilant during this Christmas season so that we can have victory and get to the vaccine,” added Hutchinson