COVID-19 in Arkansas

The COVID-19 continues to affect people in our state. ACHI will provide updates and insights on emerging COVID-19-related issues.

Last Updated: January 31, 2023

Combating COVID-19 Misinformation

In November 2022, Twitter ended its enforcement and monitoring policies against COVID-19 misinformation. In light of this decision — amid evolving COVID-19 variants and the unknown impact of long COVID on millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Arkansans — ACHI is redoubling its commitment to combating misinformation regarding COVID-19 treatment and prevention.

For Trustworthy COVID-19 Treatment Information:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory COVID-19 Treatment Panel
    • The panel of health experts and physicians publishes updates on treatment of COVID-19.
    • Currently, the panel recommends the following two therapies as preferred treatments for COVID-19:
      • Paxlovid
      • Remdesivir
    • The panel also continues to recommend the use of tixagevimab plus cilgavimab (Evusheld) as pre-exposure prevention for eligible individuals, such as people with immune system problems, to prevent COVID-19 infection. 

How to Identify Misinformation:

To combat misinformation, one must first learn how to spot it. Here are a few recommendations that may help you recognize COVID-19 treatment misinformation online:

  • Determine the source of the information.
  • Don’t equate likes and shares on social media posts with credibility.
  • Ask yourself: What’s behind this information? What’s the evidence? What are other sources saying?
  • Use authoritative sources.

Helpful Links and Additional Sources:

What to know about the current vaccine schedule recommended by the CDC

In December 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced updates to its COVID-19 vaccine recommendations. Children 6 months and older are now eligible for a three-dose vaccine series, with the third dose administered using the bivalent vaccine. There are differences on timing of doses depending on the vaccine administered — Pfizer or Moderna.

  • All individuals 5 years and older are eligible for a bivalent booster dose two months after their last primary series dose (i.e., two months after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
    • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may require an additional dose to complete their primary series, depending on which vaccine they have received.
    • Those who previously received monovalent booster doses are eligible two months after the last monovalent booster dose.
    • People who recently had COVID-19 may consider delaying their next vaccine dose by three months from the date their symptoms started — or, if they had no symptoms, from the date of their first positive test.

Bivalent vs. Monovalent

  • Bivalent: These boosters are the most recent version of the COVID-19 vaccine. They are called “bivalent” because they protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
  • Monovalent: The previous boosters are called “monovalent” because they were designed to protect against the original virus that caused COVID-19. They also provide some protection against the omicron variant, but not as much as the updated (bivalent) boosters.

Consult your primary care provider or pharmacist for questions about the timing of your booster dose, as well as how to complete your primary vaccine series. For a more in-depth look, see the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule.

Some individuals who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience a wide range of ongoing health problems or long-term effects, commonly called long COVID. Anyone who has been infected with the virus can experience long COVID, including some people who never tested positive or knew they were infected. For more information about long COVID, a list of possible symptoms, and guidance for people dealing with long COVID, visit the CDC’s website.

The following dashboard displays COVID-19 hospitalization data and trends in Arkansas, as well as the cumulative death toll from COVID-19 and the number of deaths reported in the past 30 days. The number of currently hospitalized individuals reflects infection rates in Arkansas. For example, increased hospitalizations are indicative of increased infections in communities around the state. Data are displayed as reported by the Arkansas Department of Health. 

Testing Information

When to test:

  • If you have symptoms or have been exposed (or potentially exposed) to an individual with COVID-19 you should self-test or get tested at a healthcare facility.
  • Because you can be infected without symptoms or a known exposure to someone with COVID-19, using a self-test before gathering with others, either within your household or outside of your household, can inform you about your risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.
  • A negative result means that the test did not detect the virus and that you may not have an infection, but it does not rule out infection, especially when self-testing. Repeating an at-home test within a few days, with at least 24 hours between tests, will increase the confidence that you are not infected.

Where to get tested or obtain at-home tests:

  • Use the CDC’s COVID-19 Testing Locator to search for free COVID-19 testing sites near you. Testing sites could include local pharmacies, commercial laboratories, community sites, or retail locations.
  • Free or low-cost at-home tests may be available at Local Health Units or local pharmacies.
  • Commercial insurance carriers are required to pay or reimburse for individually purchased self-tests (check with your insurance provider for conditions).
  • All U.S. households are eligible to order four free at-home COVID-⁠19 tests from covid.gov/tests

How to perform a COVID-19 self-test:

  • Always carefully review the instructions that come with your home test before getting started. There are many different manufacturers of home tests and the instructions may vary.
  • Watch a demonstration on how to use one common at-home test.
  • The CDC has put together a detailed page about at-home COVID-19 self-tests on their website.

What to do if your test result is positive:

  • You should stay home or isolate for 5 days, if possible. If you are asymptomatic after five days with a negative test, you may return to work, but you must continue to wear high quality masks through day 10 (N95s and KN95s offer better protection than cloth masks).
  • Tell a healthcare provider about your positive test result and stay in contact with them.
  • If your illness becomes severe, seek medical attention.
  • If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. A person with COVID-19 can begin spreading it two days before they have any symptoms or test positive. By informing your close contacts that they may have been exposed, they can test at home and help protect their family and others.
  • If you think your positive test result may be incorrect, contact a healthcare provider to determine whether or not additional testing is necessary.
  • For more information about what to do if you test positive, refer to the CDC’s detailed guidance.

Defining COVID-19 Terms

As the pandemic continues to unfold, it can be difficult to keep up with emerging information about COVID-19, especially if you are unfamiliar with some of the terminology. In the early stages of this evolving health crisis, we launched a series of blog posts explaining key terms and phrases used by public health officials in discussions about this new disease. Check out some recent posts below, and see 30 Terms and Phrases Used by Public Health Officials When Talking About COVID-19 for a roundup of terms we’ve defined.

Crisis Standards of Care

As the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the U.S., hospital bed and staffing shortages have been reported in many Southern states, including Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. As these resources become strained, hospital systems may be forced to make difficult decisions regarding which patients receive care. Read More

Breakthrough Infection

A breakthrough infection (also known as a breakthrough case) is a term used to describe a COVID-19 infection that occurs in a fully vaccinated person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a person with a breakthrough infection as someone who has a positive COVID-19 test 14 or more days after receiving a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine. Read More

Endemic

An endemic disease is one that is commonly found in a specific population or region. Endemic diseases are different from epidemics and pandemics, which are outbreaks of a disease that continue to spread to other regions (or globally in the case of a pandemic). An example of an endemic virus is influenza, better known as the flu. Read More

pexels-rodnae-productions-6129144
virus pic for blog

Helpful Links and Numbers

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is tracking statewide cases, and more information can be found here, and en espanol.

Arkansas hotline for information about COVID-19 vaccination, including help scheduling appointments: 1-800-985-6030. The hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The CDC posts regular online updates with latest guidelines and information on COVID-19.

ADH: During normal business hours (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), urgent and non-urgent calls, please dial 1-800-803-7847 or email ADH.CoronaVirus@arkansas.gov. After normal business hours and weekend calls, needing immediate response, please call 1-800-554-5738.

UAMS: Click here for screening information, including online, phone, and in-person screenings. Their COVID-19 Hotline is 1-800-632-4502.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH): For children younger than 18 years old, call 1-800-743-3616. Nursing staff will be available for questions and phone screenings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Click here for more information from ACH.

CDC Mask Guidelines: Click here to view the mask guidelines from the CDC

COVID-19 Testing in Arkansas: Use the CDC’s testing locator to search for the nearest no-cost testing location. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also provides information on how and where to get tested.

Order free at-home tests: https://www.covidtests.gov/