Jonesboro & Craighead Co. political and medical leaders: “Wear a mask, we’re at a tipping point."

Jonesboro & Craighead Co. political and medical leaders: “Wear a mask, we’re at a tipping point."

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Jonesboro and Craighead County political and medical leaders held a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30, to address the continuing increase of COVID-19.

News conference: Public officials and hospital CEOs discuss COVID surge in NE Arkansas

Craighead County Judge Marvin Day started the press conference by addressing the White House report that Region 8 News shared on Wednesday, that highlighted the problems in Northeast Arkansas.

Jonesboro’s medical director and NYIT dean, Dr. Shane Speights said the country is at its highest point since the pandemic began.

Dr. Speights pointed out that in Arkansas when Governor Hutchinson issued the statewide mask mandate, the two weeks following that mandate saw a decrease in new COVID 19 numbers.

Chris Barber, CEO of St. Bernards, says some people are “delaying care” because of COVID-19. Now is the time, he says, to be proactive and seek care.

Barber said Northeast Arkansas has seen a 112% increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the last 30 days.

We cannot continue the trend we’re seeing right now, Barber says. “We will have real problems in our community in the near future.”

Sam Lynd, CEO of NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital told of a study released this week by Vanderbilt University that shows “the trend going in the wrong direction when we don’t follow the guidelines,(masks, social distancing, etc.)”

Dr. Speights was asked about the myth of wearing a mask, but that hurts local businesses.

Dr. Speights, "Wearing a mask means we can continue doing what we want to do (do business, daily activities etc.)

A question was asked, "Is COVID19 real? “It is real,” says Chris Barber, CEO of St. Bernards. We have treated over 1,300 people with COVID. “Let’s do our part to slow the spread.”

Another myth-busting question was asked to Dr. Speights on if you can make yourself sicker by wearing a mask.

Both CEO’s of St. Bernards and NEA Baptist Memorial, stressed that while they have plans to build “makeshift hospitals,” they hoping it’s not needed.

When asked and pressed if something else needs to be done to get this rise to slow, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day backed away from going farther with any kind of punishment for people not following the statewide mask mandate.

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