LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The head of UAMS Health is warning of a possible surge of COVID cases and deaths in Arkansas.

The state reported Tuesday that there were 75 COVID patients in the ICU compared to just 34 a few months ago.

In a series of tweets Wednesday Chancellor of UAMS Dr. Cam Patterson said the increase is likely due to a new variant of COVID-19, that is expected to be more contagious and come with more consequences.

Dr. Patterson said the strain is impacting the younger generation in Arkansas sending 20-year-olds to the ICU.

“Now we are seeing people of child-bearing age, who are sick enough not only to require treatment in an intensive care unit but to be put on heart lung bypass,” said Dr. Patterson.

He said the only way to slow the surge is to get vaccinated.

Right now, 40 percent of eligible people in Arkansas are vaccinated, a number Dr. Patterson said he’s not happy with.

“That’s simply not enough of a high enough percentage to have a meaningful impact,” Dr. Patterson said.

Without higher vaccine numbers, Dr. Patterson said the state in terms of the pandemic is “At best – smoldering.”

The White House Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair stressed the importance of getting the vaccine to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent things from getting worse.

“If you’re unvaccinated, irresectable to your age, irresectable to your medical conditions, you can still get the infection and the virus and you can still, unfortunately, end up dying,” Dr. Choucair said.

Dr. Choucair said the hesitance to get the vaccine is likely due to questions people have about the effectiveness and long-term impacts of the vaccine.

“Those are legitimate questions, and we want to make sure that we are getting them the answers that they need,” Choucair said.

Choucair encouraged anyone who has concerns about the vaccine to reach out to their doctor.