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Arkansas Health Chief Wants Children to Get Vaccinated, Wear Masks

School
Elementary school students learn at school, having to don masks and keep distance to stay safe during this pandemic (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

Dr. Jose Romero, the Arkansas Secretary of Health, stated that a “statistically significant” rise in children acquiring COVID-19 and developing severe illness should dispel some of the misconceptions that this is a benign condition among children.

Romero said the research indicates COVID-19 is dangerous to children. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in his weekly news conference that parents should have their children vaccinated. He also said that immunization may protect youngsters from the risks of long-distance COVID-19 transmission.

Arkansas Mask Mandate

The Springdale School Board deliberated to halt its mask mandate for students. (Photo: KY3)

 

COVID-19 Cases Among Children Increases

COVID-19 caused an 84.4 percent rise in pediatric hospital admissions between December and August, according to Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) statistics. COVID-19 caused a 27.2 percent rise in pediatric ICU admissions from January to August, according to the statistics.

The usage of masks in classrooms has been a contentious and politically sensitive topic. Act 1002 was temporarily halted by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox on Sept. 30 until a trial could be conducted. Fox has scheduled a trial for November 22-24. Act 1002 made it illegal for local school districts and state and municipal authorities to enforce mask laws. Little Rock School District, Marion School District, two parents, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, and Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins have all filed a complaint.

Governor Hutchinson signed the veto-proof bill into law but subsequently expressed remorse and urged the court to reject his motion, KATV said.

According to a recent survey conducted by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, 46% of 916 potential Arkansas voters think that school boards should have the right to determine whether or not face masks should be compulsory in schools. Another 29.5 percent said the state should prevent schools from adopting face masks, while 29 percent thought the state should mandate masks in all public schools.

ALSO READ: Arkansas COVID-19 Update: Delta Variant’s Devastating Impact Among Children, New Data Reveals

School Employees Support

COVID-19 cases at public schools and colleges continue to decrease, according to Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key. He acknowledged that the trends are moving in the right way.

However, he did say that the effort to keep kids, teachers, staff, and others safe throughout the school year is taxing.

Key said a lot of mental, emotional, and physical energy is needed. He even added that of the most optimistic individuals he know are telling him that they need assistance.”

According to Key, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) is offering free counseling to individuals who work in public schools to assist alleviate the stress. He said officials would announce the program’s intentions on ADE social media, and he encouraged people who are qualified to use the confidential service.

Latest Numbers

UALR said Arkansas recorded 882 new COVID instances in the preceding 24 hours on Wednesday, increasing the overall number of cases to 499,882. The number of active cases continues to drop, with 7,879 recorded in the last 24 hours, down 217 from the previous day. COVID-related deaths increased by six to 7,781.

According to state statistics, there were 624 hospitalizations, down 40, and ventilator usage was down 15 to 173.

Arkansas Health Department said more than 1.350 million Arkansans are completely vaccinated. Around 52.9 percent of those are aged 12 and above. In addition, 11.3 percent of individuals aged 12 and above had only received a partial immunization.

RELATED ARTICLE: Arkansas COVID-19 Deaths: How Families Cope With the Unprecedented Loss of Their Family Members

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