BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Once one of the lowest counties in the state with positive COVID-19 cases, Independence County had over an 18 percent positivity rate in the last two weeks, placing them in the top three in the state.
“I think you have a certain percentage, I want to say at least a third that believes it is a hoax believe it’s no worse than the flu. But the data tells you something different,” Independence County Judge Robert Griffin said.
That data ensured Independence County a spot as one of the ‘Top 98 National Emerging Hotspots’ in the U.S. with an 18.3% positivity rate according to the latest report from the Department of Homeland Security.
Judge Robert Griffin said since the county is a regional hub for commerce they expected an uptick.
“The death rate is probably five times what it is to the flu, and it doesn’t matter how you manipulate the numbers as long as you’re comparing apples to apples,” Griffin said.
As cases increase, citizens expressed how they feel about it all and their thoughts landed on both sides of the spectrum
“A lot of it, I think is just a bunch of fear you know going into the community which is causing all this outrage,” Byron Lopez said.
However, Andrew Bridgers said the community of Batesville is self-contained and they are not ready for what’s to come.
“If we don’t work together, it’s going to really hurt this community economically and death,” Bridgers said.
During the same time the governor and other state officials announced those numbers, the Batesville School District held a live video discussing what reopening plans look like for Aug 24th.
The superintendent was joined by two doctors from the White River Health System including Jeff Angel.
“Maybe you think it’s overkill and it’s another fluke. But, it’s not another fluke,” Angel said.
Judge Griffin agrees with Angel and calls the numbers an indicator of the message not getting through to everyone.
That’s why he uses his platforms to push awareness for good hygiene, social distancing and mask-wearing.
“The numbers indicate that we have an issue here in the county, we did not have two weeks ago, and for a three to four-month period, we had not had here. This is making it real. And this is something that people need to pay attention to,” Griffin said.