Dr. Romero addresses Arkansas hospitalizations, reassures vaccine safety

Romero provides update to lawmakers

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero addressed the Arkansas joint committee on public health, welfare and labor, Monday, on COVID-19 in the state.

Dr. Romero is concerned about hospital staffing as 90 percent of ICU beds are filled. Just 20 percent of those are coming from COVID-19 patients.

“I’m sorry to say this but I think you all have to have a realistic view of what’s going to happen within the next few weeks. We are about to enter a surge upon surge. Unfortunately, our population and that is the population of the United States has not heeded the warning the possible risks of infection in travel in the holiday season,” Romero said.

Dr. Romero also discussed the timeline for the COVID-19 vaccine concerning its safety and how it would be distributed.

He says the state could have its first allotment of Pfizer’s vaccine by the end of next week.

The federal government will distribute the vaccine, with about 25,000 vaccines being in the first allotment.

“As we say it does no good to have a vaccine if it can’t get into your arm, and if the public has reservations about this vaccine and has reduced uptake, that could be a problem. That’s one of the reasons why I have stressed over and over again that as far as we see today and that I’ve look at. This is a safe vaccine,” Romero said.

Preliminary data show the vaccine to be 90 percent effective with minimal safety concerns.

Over 218 thousand healthcare workers in the state would be a priority to get the vaccine.

Dr. Romero says that it will likely be mid-2021 before the vaccine is available for the general public.

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