It has been approximately three months since the first positive COVID case was reported in Greene County, on March 20. There have been a total of 78 positive cases reported to date, seven positive cases admitted to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center, and no deaths. With a county population of over 45,000 residents, it may not seem like a lot to be concerned about. Governor Asa Hutchinson has lifted some restrictions for hospitals, restaurants, schools, and the entertainment industry, to keep the state’s economy moving forward. Residents are beginning to return to a more normal social routine, and activity in general seems to be picking up. In the medical field, physician’s offices and AMMC patient volume are returning to normal volumes.
I understand many residents are tired of social distancing, wearing masks, and having our lives disrupted over the past three months. We are creatures of habit, often resistant to change, independent and in general, don’t like to be told what to do. Most residents, however, have followed the CDC’s and the Governor’s restrictions and recommendations, and our numbers reflect that. In early March, I was concerned that we would be experiencing what New York, Seattle, New Orleans and other major cities were going through. We have been very fortunate in our county to have our numbers so low.
However, neither my concerns nor the virus have gone away. We may be relaxing to the point where the virus is becoming "out of sight, out of mind." I also worry the virus may just be getting here, that it has finally worked its way from the east and west coasts and is beginning to hit the Heartland. This fall, when our children return to school and our normal flu season begins, remember that we are always one asymptomatic super spreader away from an outbreak in our community. Even though we have learned a lot about the virus and its spread, there is a lot that is still unknown.
It is not the time to put aside all the precautions that keep us safe. Masking, social distancing and hand-washing are just as important now, as they were three months, ago and they are still being highly recommended by both the CDC and the Governor. We must continue to keep our families, our friends and our county safe. As the summer arrives and out-of-state vacations begin, sporting events ramp up and trips to the river or lake start, please remember that the virus is still around us. Be smart. Be safe. Don’t let your guard down, not just yet.
President and CEO
Arkansas Methodist Medical Center