Wednesday: Arkansas at 1,401 active cases, 3,611 to date; Mayor: Don’t let your guard down

7 PM

Cumulative Confirmed Cases: 3,611

Deaths: 87

Recovered: 2,109

Total Active Cases: 1,401

Total Tested: 59,995

Source: ADH Website


7 PM

NEA County Numbers:

  • Randolph County: 21 positive, 14 recoveries, 579 negative
  • Clay County: 3 positive, 0 recoveries, 301 negative
  • Cleburne County: 72 positive, 66 recoveries, 214 negative, 4 deaths
  • Craighead County: 88 positive, 57 recoveries, 1,294 negative, 0 death
  • Crittenden County: 202 positive, 152 recoveries, 1,172 negative, 7 deaths
  • Fulton County: 3 positive, 0 recoveries, 111 negative
  • Greene County: 21 positive, 12 recoveries, 791 negative
  • Independence County: 11 positive, 9 recoveries, 216 negative
  • Jackson County: 1 positive, 1 recoveries, 91 negative
  • Lawrence County: 69 positive, 29 recoveries, 299 negative, 4 deaths
  • Mississippi County: 42 positive, 10 recoveries, 327 negative
  • Poinsett County: 25 positive, 14 recoveries, 198 negatives, 2 deaths
  • Sharp County: 7 positives, 3 recoveries, 67 negative
  • Don’t see your county? Click here to find it on ADH’s map.

7 PM

United States: 1,227,430 positive

71,220 have died. 189,791 have recovered.

Global: 3,748,959 positive

263,146 have died. 1,238,453 have recovered.

Source: Johns Hopkins University.


Tracking the Growth

The latest numbers have been added to graphics by our friend Dr. Pat Carroll, who is helping us track new cases and active cases by date.


7:00 PM

Mayor: Don’t let guard down against COVID-19

State Health Director Dr. Nathaniel Smith identified Jonesboro as a city with some of Arkansas’ top COVID-19 case growth Wednesday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily news conference.

Mayor Harold Perrin, meanwhile, has been working since Sunday with Wal-Mart executives to open drive-thru testing for potential coronavirus cases at one of Jonesboro’s store parking lots.

Perrin was neither surprised nor alarmed by Smith’s statement, but doesn’t consider Jonesboro a “hotspot” for coronavirus.

“We have believed for two months that the numbers are higher than announced in Jonesboro, simply because we haven’t had the tests run,” Perrin said. “I don’t know that we’re necessarily a hotspot, but I do know COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere. And just because the governor has loosened restrictions doesn’t mean we don’t have to be careful.

“We in fact should be more cautious in public because more people will be out and about.”

Perrin said he is optimistic that residents will respond well to the easing of restrictions by the state, based on the city’s ability to prevent a mass outbreak of COVID-19 in the wake of the March 28 tornado.

“I had a lot of concern after that tornado that COVID might run rampant through our city, through our police force or fire department,” Perrin said. “As you know, this coronavirus can lie dormant for weeks before symptoms begin to show.

“I consider it a great response by our city that even though our numbers continue to grow, we didn’t see a large spike after the tornado. I do believe, however, that we have not had accurate totals because of the lack of tests.”

Perrin said he hopes that a partnership with Wal-Mart will lead to more testing and accurate numbers.

“I want us to proceed,” he said of the easing of public restrictions. “But with caution. That means yes, you should wear a mask in public. And yes, you should stay home if you have a fever or other signs of illness. And yes, you should maintain social distance at all times.”


11:30 AM

Commentary: Why the Wait? By Jonathan Berman, PhD 

Jonathan Berman, PhD, is an assistant professor of basic sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University. His book, “Antivaxxers: How to Address a Misinformed Movement,” will be available on September 8.

Over the years, Hollywood has given us numerous pandemic-themed television shows and films that typically conclude with the hero developing a treatment at the last moment that is rapidly adopted.  As a result, humanity is saved in an instant.  

Unfortunately, we’re living in a reality that doesn’t mirror the big screen. As the public has learned that it might take 18 months or longer to develop a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19, many have wondered why the process takes so long. 

Vaccines must be safe and effective before they’re ready to be delivered.  Although the speed of development for many vaccines has increased significantly, it still takes many months for them to reach approval. Why be so cautious? It’s a lesson learned through trial and error.

In 1901, a horse named Jim was used to produce serum containing diphtheria antitoxin. However, Jim contracted tetanus and died. Nonetheless, Jim’s serum was distributed and was traced to the deaths of 12 children, all of whom died from tetanus.

As a result, the government saw the need to become more involved in the process, and the Biologics Control Act of 1902 was implemented to regulate biological products such as vaccines. Later, the Pure Food and Drug act of 1906 added regulations. Since then, quality assurance has been folded into the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Other incidents followed in the effort to eradicate polio. In the 1930s, two teams worked to develop vaccines. One was led by John Kolmer of Temple University and another by Jeremiah Milbank and Morice Brodie. Their vaccines were each tested in thousands of children. Between the two vaccines, a number of allergic reactions occurred, resulting in the deaths of six children and the paralysis of 10 others. The public outrage that followed these deaths arguably set back polio vaccine research by two decades.

Later when Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin developed their polio vaccines, another incident occurred. Salk’s vaccine used inactivated polio virus, which means the virus was “killed” by treatment with formalin so that it could not infect cells. Cutter and Wyeth Laboratories improperly inactivated more than 100,000 doses of polio vaccine. In this case, the vaccine contained a small amount of live virus, which caused polio infections and resulted in 250 cases of paralysis and 11 deaths. The Cutter incident led to greater oversight of vaccine production and testing.  

Although these incidents occurred almost 100 years ago, we still take stock in the lessons they teach.

Like any other drug or biologic that will be administered to many people, vaccines must be tested thoroughly to ensure their safety. As the previous examples show, a lack of precaution can have unintended effects, and that preparation takes time. It can’t be rushed. The process has become much safer but also much longer as researchers are required to adhere to more and more much-needed regulations. 

Vaccine development begins with exploratory research, which develops a protocol for producing a vaccine. This might be through inactivation of a virus, the attenuation of a live virus – weakening it so it causes an immune response but doesn’t infect a host – or other methods.

These experimental vaccines are often tested in cultured cells – living cells grown in dishes – to make sure they don’t produce infections. Next, these drugs are typically tested in living animals because no culture mechanism adequately replicates the immune system of a living mammal with all its complexity. These tests look for safety, and in animals vulnerable to infection, may look for the generation of immunity. This initial development and testing can take years or decades of continual iteration or refinement, although several strong COVID-19 vaccine candidates are already past this stage.

In clinical trials, vaccines that have proven safe and produced immunity in animal trials will first be tested for safety in humans. Here, increasing doses of vaccine are given to a small number of human volunteers to determine a safe dose that does not produce significant side effects. This is called a phase I trial. 

In a phase II trial, a vaccine that has passed phase I without causing significant side effects will be tested for effectiveness. For example, a group of people vaccinated against SARS-COV-2 might be followed for several weeks to determine if they are less likely to test positive for SARS-COV-2 than those who have been vaccinated with a placebo. These trials provide additional information about safety. Phase III trials scale up testing to hundreds or thousands of patients. Following rollout of a vaccine, further studies are conducted to ensure that it does not cause additional problems that weren’t previously noticed.

Each of these stages often takes months or years. Occasionally, the FDA will fast-track approval of a drug for an urgent unmet medical need if the results are extremely promising, such as with the development of Gleevec, a common cancer medication.  Currently, hundreds of trials are ongoing for either vaccines against the virus that causes COVID-19 or for treatments that might lessen the severity of its disease burden, such as antivirals or convalescent plasma.

We’ve already experienced the risks of rushing treatments in this pandemic as studies have found that hydroxychloroquine, which was initially touted by some for a treatment of COVID-19 but seems to have no benefit and increases the risk of death. We must be cautious that when a vaccine does become available, it’s been proven to be both safe and effective.

Patience is a virtue that does not come easily in our world that is accustomed to immediate gratification, but it’s one that must be practiced as we let the scientific process play out.

About NYITCOM at Arkansas State University:

New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, located on A-State’s Jonesboro campus, is dedicated to improving access to health care for the underserved and rural populations in Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta Region. Arkansas ranks 48th in overall population health status due to low health indicators including obesity and number of adults who smoke. The state also ranks 46th in the number of active physicians per capita and 39th in the number of primary care physicians. NYITCOM at A-State was established in 2016 with the mission of meeting the need for more physicians in this medically underserved area.


NEA Baptist will hold Virtual Mother’s Day 5K

Jonesboro, Ark., May 5, 2020 –  The 6th annual NEA Baptist Mother’s Day 5K will be held May 10th – May 31st.  This year the race will be run virtually due to COVID-19.  Online registration is open at https://raceroster.com/events/2020/30780/nea-baptist-virtual-mothers-day-5k-2020 .  Registration is $25 and each race participant will receive a t-shirt.  Participants should register prior to May 10th.

Race participants will select their own 3.1 mile course and may walk or run their race anytime between May 10th – 31st.

Tracking virtual race stats and mileage can be done by using a fitness tracker or fitness app.  Teams and participants can upload photos of their race time on the NEA Baptist MD5K Race Roster site (not mandatory).

We want to see you walking or running.  After you complete your virtual 5K please post photos on social media, tag NEA Baptist, and use the designated hash tag – #NEABaptistMD5K.

All proceeds from this event will benefit the ShareHope Family Fund which helps financially burdened families with funeral expenses.   ShareHope, a program of the NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation, is a support service for anyone who has suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death.

Race shirts will be mailed to the address listed on your registration. Please allow extra time due to COVID -19 slow production and postal services.

NEA Baptist Health System comprises NEA Baptist Clinic, NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, and NEA Baptist Fowler Family Center for Cancer Care.  The 228-bed hospital offers cancer care, heart care through the Heart Center, labor and delivery services through the hospital’s Women’s Center, as well as a number of inpatient and outpatient services, emergency care, and surgical services including weight loss surgery, neurology, respiratory care, and pulmonary rehabilitation. NEA Baptist Clinic’s over 110 physicians practice in more than 35 specialties and offer a wealth of services, from pediatrics to orthopedic services.

For more information about NEA Baptist, please call 870-936-1000 or visit http://www.neabaptist.com.


Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation Announces COVID-19 Mini Grants Foundation to Provide $25K, to Raise Additional $25K

LITTLE ROCK, AR (April 29, 2020) – The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation (ABHOF), in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Health – Office of Health Equity (ADH), announced the launch of the ABHOF Foundation COVID-19 Relief Initiative. Under this new initiative, the ABHOF Foundation will begin accepting applications for mini grants from organizations serving black and other underserved communities throughout Arkansas. ABHOF has committed $25,000 to the effort and is seeking to raise an additional $25,000 in private funds during the month of May. These funds would provide additional mini grants to organizations through a second round of awards.

The Foundation’s initiative will provide mini grants, up to $1,000, to Arkansas-based organizations serving minority communities and working to address COVID-19 related issues in the following ways:

  • Food insecurity
  • Housing
  • Household finance relief
  • Physical and mental health care
  • Education of children and families

Qualified groups and organizations may apply for these grants by clicking here.

“As Arkansas and the nation continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and communities are affected physically, economically, mentally and emotionally, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation is compelled to respond immediately to help bring relief,” said Charles Stewart, Chairman of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation. “This pandemic is creating a new normal for us, however when there are challenges in our communities, we rise to help meet them. For more than twenty years, we have provided in excess of $1,000,000 in community grants and investments to support groups and organizations that help build-up black and other underserved communities. We recognize the importance of responding during this unprecedented time by getting funds quickly and efficiently to those who are best suited to meet the needs.”

Data shows minority populations are disproportionately affected by COVID-19; African Americans make up 15 percent of the population, but account for more than 28 percent of COVID-19 cases statewide. Through this partnership, ADH will identify and notify qualified organizations throughout Arkansas of the available grants. ABHOF has created a streamlined grant application process and will assess grant requests.

In May, ABHOF will seek to raise an additional $25,000 for the COVID-19 Relief Initiative. The month-long fundraising campaign will give ABHOF stakeholders and the general public the opportunity to contribute to this ongoing effort. At the close of the campaign, the funds will be distributed through a second mini grant process.

To donate to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation COVID-19 Relief Initiative click here.

About the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation, in its 27th year, aims to provide an environment in which future generations of African-American achievers with Arkansas roots will thrive and succeed.

The Foundation honors the contributions of African Americans through its annual Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and awards grants to support charitable endeavors in the black community. Throughout its history, the Foundation has sought to correct the omissions of history and to remind the world that black history is a significant part of American history.

About the Arkansas Department of Health – Office of Health Equity The mission of the Office of Health Equity is to provide leadership, support, and advocacy for efforts aimed at promoting equitable practices within Arkansas Department of Health and reducing disparities in Arkansas.

HYPERLINKS:

Grant Application: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ABHOFCOVID19 ABHOF COVID-19 Initiative GoFundMe

Donation Page: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/abhof-covid-19-reliefinitiative/arkansasblackhalloffamefoundation?utm_campaign=ocdonate&ut m_medium=email&utm_source=crowdrise.


Yesterday

Governor extends state of emergency, lifts traveler restrictions

The governor has issued an executive order to extend the state of emergency in Arkansas for 45 days. All directives previously issues are reaffirmed through the latest proclamation.

The restriction for recreational travelers, previously prohibited for out of state travelers, is lifted for non-hot spot cases across the country (Hot spots include NY, New Orleans, NJ, and CT)

New guidelines are being worked on for pools, Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said, indicating there would be some sort of lessening of restrictions on public pools.


This article will be updated throughout the day on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Check back and refresh for the latest news and numbers.




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