Dr. Pirtle explains Covid risks

Friday, December 17, 2021

Blytheville Mayor James Sanders reported 145 active cases in the county during his weekly Covid briefing on Wednesday.

With cases rising in recent weeks, Mississippi County health officer Dr. Valencia Andrews-Pirtle gave a breakdown of the recent cases she’s seen.

“When someone tests positive for Covid, I usually make a point to ask what made them test,” Pirtle said. “One thing that’s common is the person feeling sick after being around a bigger group of people. I know a lot of people have gotten comfortable in churches [for example] and other places without wearing a mask. Please wear a mask. This stuff is happening in places where people feel comfortable. Wearing a mask is the key.”

Pirtle went on to explain the risks at hand if Covid-19 continues to spread and create variants like Delta and Omicron. She also urged the public to get vaccinated and also received their booster shots when available.

“I believe if we had all gotten vaccinated quicker, we wouldn’t have all these variants because we would’ve been resistant and had the antibodies to fight it. Then the virus wouldn’t have had the opportunity to mutate and survive,” Pirtle said. “We can see how it’s super possible for the variant to continue if we don’t do what we have to.”

Booster shots for Pfizer and Moderna are both available to the public six months after the initial two doses are received. Citizens are eligible for Johnson and Johnson boosters just two months after their first shot.

Sanders also reported that 39.4 percent of Mississippi County has been fully vaccinated.

Pirtle also stated that while no cases of the Omicron variant have been reported in the state as of Wednesday, research shows that only a small amount of this variant is required to infect a person.

Despite Omicron not being present in Arkansas, the state still has 7,323 active cases. Concerning northeast Arkansas, there are 371 cases in Craighead County, 173 in Poinsett, 169 in Greene and 82 in Crittenden.