2 cases in Blytheville Mayor’s office

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Due to two positive cases in his administrative office, Blytheville Mayor James Sanders’ weekly COVID-19 report was held on Zoom Oct. 14.

Mayor Sanders reported that Northeast Arkansas is still one of the leading areas in the state for COVID-19 growth rate. While Mississippi County specifically isn’t experiencing spiking numbers, Sanders did report that there are 135 active cases in Mississippi County. Police Chief Ross Thompson stressed the importance of continuing to exercise caution.

“While it might not be mainly Mississippi County, we are still a part of Northeast Arkansas,” he said. “We're having contact with our neighbors who come in and out of our area for work, to shop, and we’re going there and back as well. While we might not be the county that is spiking right now, there are still issues with the increases we’re seeing in our area.”

This week’s report also featured local doctors and health professionals to educate the public on how to deal with the mental stress and anxiety presented by this pandemic.

Mental health professional Ken Jarvis said depression has increased specifically with young adults with the ages of 18-26.

“Within that age range, I'm seeing more depression within minority communities,” Jarvis said. “Pre-COVID, these things were happening but the statistic of seeing it in this age group was much lower. More young people are overdosing on opioids, cutting themselves, and overdosing on other illegal substances.”

Jarvis, along with Dr. Chimere Ashley and Dr. Andrews Pirtle, talked about the importance of breaking the barriers and stigmas associated with seeking help regarding mental health.

“A lot of times we discuss depression and people think we just want to throw pills at them,” Ashley said. “That is not the case. Pills are not a quick fix.”

She said the focus is more on addressing how daily activities and interactions have changed and emphasized the importance of simply having a conversation before the anxiety boils over.

Pirtle also spoke about the ways she has battled negative thoughts regarding the pandemic.

“I took up violin before COVID happened,” Pirtle said. “I find that when I play the violin, even though I do not sound good yet, by focusing on trying to make it sound better, I don’t think about COVID-19, I don’t think about catching it or the people that have died. So I wish for people to find something they’ve really wanted to do. So that when COVID is over, you can say ‘I did this, I accomplished this.’ Find something that gives you joy that you always wanted to do.”

They also stated that even if citizens do not have health insurance, they can receive a free coronavirus test at Healthy Partners at 605 North 2nd St.