After NEA Baptist (along with St. Bernards Healthcare) decided its employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 earlier in the month, a local debate was sparked with some voicing opposition to the idea.
Over the weekend in Jonesboro, a demonstration was held in the city by those who oppose employers mandating vaccines. NEA Baptist issued a response to the protest on Monday:
We understand that some people have an opposing view regarding our decision to require the vaccine for our workforce. Given we are in the midst of the greatest health care crisis of our generation, we made the decision that we believed to be in the best interest of our entire team, our patients and the community at large. While they have the right to voice their opinions, we have a responsibility to provide the safest environment for our staff members and patients, many of whom are vulnerable and immunocompromised. This was not a decision we made lightly.Ty Jones, NEA Baptist Director/Marketing
NEA Baptist also released their latest COVID numbers for the prior week. Although the positivity rate remains above 20-percent, it has dropped slightly since the week before.
August 23-29: 1,347 tests administered with 20.4% positivity rate.
July 23-29: 1,134 tests administered with 22.4% positivity rate.
June 23-29: 299 tests administered with 11.7% positivity rate.
“We believe a contributing factor to the higher number of tests and lower rate of positivity is that many schools and employers in our area now require a negative test result for re-entry of school or place of employment,” Jones wrote in the weekly update to media.
NEA Baptist continues to administer more vaccines to the public. Almost 2,000 were vaccinated through their health system in August.
“It is no coincidence that as we see our positivity rate decrease, we are in the midst of a large uptick in vaccinations,” Jones said. “NEA Baptist Clinic administered nearly 2,000 COVID vaccinations in the month of August. That’s nearly a 60% increase over July numbers which were a new record in vaccinations. As the community continues to vaccinate, it will only aid in preventing future severe infections and hospitalizations.”
NEA Baptist also reports their seven-day average of COVID-19 patients has dropped slightly, but still remains high. The average of in-house COVID patients over the past seven-days was reported to be 51.