Local leaders urge caution

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases remains high in Mississippi County, though the numbers did drop from 401 active cases last Wednesday to 343 as of Tuesday morning.

Thus far, there have been 4,072 cases, with 3,637 recoveries and 91 deaths in Mississippi County.

In Blytheville Mayor James Sanders’ most recent COVID-19 press conference last Wednesday, the mayor and local leaders continued to implore residents to be cautious during the holiday season.

Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson detailed the constant increase in active locations.Two weeks prior Thompson reported 220 active locations in Mississippi County with 80 in the Blytheville area. Last Wednesday those numbers jumped to 357 in active locations in the county and 194 in the Blytheville area.

Active locations are defined as places where at least one active case has been identified, and various communities around the city including Armorel, Gosnell, Half Moon, etc., are described as a part of the Blytheville area.

With the COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon for the general public, Mississippi County health officer Dr. Andrews Pirtel continued to voice her support of the vaccination and urged others to do so as well. After hearing some of the public’s doubt about the vaccine, Dr. Pirtel posed a question of her own.

“Why would you think our country would want to vaccinate millions of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers first and hurt them? Our country does not want to do that. They want to keep us safe. They want us to be able to take care of you guys,” Pirtel said.

After the initial phase of the vaccine is administered, subsequent phases focusing on essential care workers and food industry workers, followed by the most severe and at risk members of the community will begin.

Pirtel also outlined key details of the vaccination including the differences between the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Pfizer is authorized for those 16 and older while Moderna is authorized for those 18 and older, creating some overlap. Each vaccination will require two doses, however, the duration of time between each dosage creates a significant difference.

Pfizer requires at least 21 days between each shot, while Moderna requires a wait of at least 28 days.

“Your body has to work up its own immunity, and to make certain proteins and antibodies show up, you want to give it enough time to do that,” Pirtel said.

Despite the vaccine being close for everyone, Pirtel, along with Sanders and fire chief Mike Carney continued to push the importance of maintaining the current precautions.

“The mask, the social distancing, and the hand washing is not going to go away for a long time,” Carney said. He also urged the public to remain cautious during the holiday season.

“I’ve said it 100 times, we live by the choices we make, but the fact of the matter is some people die by the choices we make.”