Delta variant could become more of a problem in Arkansas, unvaccinated people at risk, health officials say

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 6/25/21 — Thursday marked the third day of a report of 380 or more cases of the coronavirus. Governor Hutchinson attributes that to people not getting vaccinated and the Covid variants, which has become a growing concern across the country.

“It is important that we keep this on everybody’s minds for the summer as people are getting out more,” Alison Buroff said.

The push to get people vaccinated is still an ongoing effort. New Olive Branch Baptist Church and other community and civic leaders hosted a mobile clinic Thursday in partnership with UAMS.

Jeremiah King, 15, and his siblings went together to get their shot. Kind received his second dose.

“My motivation was my pawpaw. He told me to take it and it wouldn’t be that bad that way we can get back to our normal lives so I stepped up and took the shot,” he said.

Right now, Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates across the country and this week the state has reported increased numbers of new cases and hospitalizations.

“Things are opening up. It makes it look like everything is back to normal. That is something that all of us want but the reality is that there is a variant still out there,” Pastor Eugene Farley said.

The Delta variant has become a growing concern for health officials across the country and they are especially concerned on how this particular variant could affect those who are not vaccinated.

The Arkansas Department of Health has been tracking each of the 8 variants that have been circulating around the state since February.

“We are seeing an escalated spread of the Delta variant. It’s much more infectious than other variants and it will soon become the predominant in Arkansas,” Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said. “Unfortunately this variant causes more severe damage in younger people. My concern is that Delta variant is a gamechanger.”

According to the report, there have 287 sequenced cases of the Alpha variant which originated in the United Kingdom and only 22 cases of the Delta variant.

“The report comes out once a week on Mondays. I can tell you that from what I have been told there are many more delta variants coming in the next report,” she said.

“We collect the samples from various situations across the state and we send them off to be sequences. It takes three weeks for the sequences to get back. So, the variant is already more widely spread than what our sequencing data can show.”

Dr. Dillaha says one does of any of the vaccines is not effective against this variant. She says individuals must be fully vaccinated for full protection.

“The delta variant is more transmissible than other variants that we have had,” she said. “Fortunately, the vaccines work really well with this variant but we are going to have to have a much higher proportion of the community vaccinated in order to suppress the spread of this variant.”

If you are not vaccinated, Dr. Dillaha strongly suggests you avoid crowds with other unvaccinated people who are not wearing masks or social distancing.

“Go get vaccinated. It’s in El Dorado. It’s everywhere across the United States.”

To view the full variant report, click here.

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