Hospital CEO offers COVID recommendations

Friday, July 24, 2020

At Blytheville Mayor James Sanders’ Wednesday COVID-19 press conference, Mississippi County Hospital System CEO Chris Raymer discussed testing, new CDC recommendations, and other general safety principles.

Raymer said, “The test is a nasal swab that they place in each nostril. It goes in a little farther than the flu test and they have to rotate it in each nostril for 15 seconds. At first, the turnaround time was about a week and then 48 hours, and now with a huge increase of testing it is 12 to 14 days for general walk-in testing.”

Raymer added, “Not all testing is run equally, symptomatic people get run first, then sick healthcare workers so there is a priority.”

Raymer warned citizens of fraudulent testing sites, and urges everyone to ask questions if they are unsure or unfamiliar with a testing site.

“We’ve seen fraudulent testing sites. When you go get a test done, make sure that you know who is testing you because you are giving them health information, social security numbers, insurance information. If they look like they are not legit, not wearing PPE, ask questions,” said Raymer.

“The CDC released some further guidelines today. If you test positive with no symptoms, you should isolate for 10 days and after that you should be able to go back to work,” said Raymer, “If you are symptomatic and you test positive you should isolate 10 days and 24 hours after there is no fever without Tylenol or Motrin, you are considered non-infections. Again all employers have different policies so you have to follow your employer’s policy.”

“If you have been exposed or start having symptoms, isolate, especially from the elderly,” he added. “The best mask is the one that is worn; the KN95 are the best by far but any mask that cuts down the spread is better than no mask. It doesn’t do you any good to wear a fishnet mask.”

As of Friday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health, Mississippi County had 511 positive cases total, 144 active cases, 360 recoveries, 7 deaths, and 5,142 negative cases. As of Wednesday there were 79 active cases in Blytheville. Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson stated, “We are starting to record responses to locations that have active cases. We are starting to log whenever we do come across that. We also review body videos to see if there was any type of exposure with our officers.”

Thompson added, “If you do have a police response, for everybody’s safety the officers may ask you to step outside. It is for everybody’s safety if we are outside.”

Thompson also mentioned that so far there have been no complaints regarding Governor Asa Hutchinson’s mask mandate.

Blytheville Fire Chief Mike Carney stated, “I do have one individual that has tested negative and he will be returning back to full status. The other six — if you remember I had seven total out — are going to be out awaiting results. As I discussed one of our members had already tested positive, I spoke with him yesterday and he sounded pretty upbeat but regardless, he’s still got a little ways to go.”

Mayor Sanders stated, “One of the employees in Public Works had a family member that tested positive and as a result, the employee was immediately tested and that individual is negative. However, in exercising full caution we have allowed for that individual to remain isolated as well until everyone in that home has finished quarantine.”

Sanders added, “Take advantage of the testing. It is all about us identifying cases of COVID-19 in our community so that we can keep our community moving forward.”