LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With school winding up for the semester and many Arkansans thinking about summer, COVID may be the last thing on your mind.
But health experts warn – it should still be something to keep an eye on.
Although numbers are nowhere near what was seen in January of this year, Arkansas has noticed an increase in active COVID cases over the past few days. According to data from the Arkansas Department of Health, Friday saw 1,830 active cases – an increase of 65 from the day before. Earlier in the week, there was a 144 increase in just 24 hours, numbers that only tell half the story.
With at-home testing being the medium of choice, many cases fly under the radar – not officially reported to the department of health.
“The tests that get reported to the health department as being positive are really just the tip of the iceberg,” explained Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, director of ADH. “We’re having a gradual overall increase in the number of cases.”
Pharmacists are seeing the increase firsthand. Daniel Cate, co-owner and head pharmacist of Market Place Pharmacy says he’s seen an increase in folks looking for cold medication; although between COVID, the flu, allergies and just a normal cold, he admits many assume it’s something else or doesn’t even know what they have.
“It’s been difficult to help folks distinguish what things are,” he explained, as many symptoms are the same for various illnesses. “We usually ask like, ‘hey, have you tested yourself?’ The last several weeks, we’ve had several positive COVID cases, several positive flu cases and folks aren’t severely ill.”
He says the best thing to do is get tested if you’re not feeling well, not only to better narrow down what you’re experiencing and help with treatment but also to keep others safe during an upcoming social season.
“Just to have that peace of mind that you’re ok and you’re taking care of the people you’ll be around,” Cate says.
In addition, Dillaha says to consider bringing a mask with you when attending large gatherings this summer, especially if someone you know is at risk and think about getting vaccinated or boosted if you haven’t done so already.