City of Blytheville offers free test kits

Friday, January 14, 2022

As covid-19 numbers continue to rise the Arkansas Department of Health is collaborating with cities across the state to provide access to at-home, rapid testing kits.

For Mississippi County, testing kits are available at the Blytheville City Hall, and both health departments in Blytheville and Osceola.

The testing kits are provided for those who believe they may have been exposed, but have yet to show any symptoms.

In each individual kit, two tests are available and are accessible at no costs.

After testing, individuals can call the covid-19 hotline, 1-800-803-7847 to report any positive results and seek more information.

If symptoms such as shortness of breath, a fever, and/coughing are already present, scheduling an appointment with a health provider is the best option.

During his covid briefing on Wednesday, Blytheville Mayor James Sanders also added the CDC is working with the Wastewater Department to further monitor covid and its variants in our area.

He went on to report that the county holds 1,010 active cases, an increase of over 300 cases in the past week.

“About six months ago we were in the range of 25-30 active cases,” Sanders said. “Fifty active cases seemed scary. And now, here Mississippi County is with 1,010 active cases.”

He added, “We’re here to provide you with information and keep it in the front of your mind so you’ll be conscious of the fact that covid is still here. It’s still moving in our county and unfortunately in other countries as well.”

As a whole, the state currently holds 64,735 active cases.

Mississippi County Health Officer, Dr. Valencia Andrews-Pirtle, expressed her concern with the rising numbers and the new measures she believes should be taken.

“Please do not use any cloth mask,” Pirtle said. “Use a high-filtering mask. It’s better to use a disposable mask, but the days of using a cloth mask should really be reconsidered and gone at this time.”

She stated that more protective masks such as N95 and KN95 should be the number one option. She also added that these help eliminate the issues with masks that may not fit properly.

“You want that total protection under your chin and around the sides as well. I see a lot of masks with the [gaps] in those areas. You don't want to have any space to breathe everything that’s out there and allow it around your mask,” Pirtle said.

Concerning boosters, she added that Moderna has reduced the time frame that a third shot can be received.

Down from six months, those who received the Moderna vaccine are now eligible for a booster five months after the first two dosages.

Both Pirtle and Sanders added that vaccines are still the best way to combat covid and it’s variants. Vaccines are still available at local pharmacies and health departments free of charge.