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Doctor says Northeast Arkansas COVID numbers expected to drop soon

Omicron far from over, but worst could be behind us
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 12:10 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Omicron cases are starting to trend downward in Northeast Arkansas, but the variant isn’t going away just yet.

Dr. Shane Speights at the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State said it appears cases have plateaued in Northeast Arkansas, but the fight to get back to pre-Omicron levels will likely be a long one.

He said he expects cases to drop significantly by the end of January into the beginning of February, but that won’t be the end of the variant’s reign in Region 8.

“Here’s the only caveat. Even in South Africa, they haven’t gotten back to the level they were before Omicron. They’re still seeing cases of Omicron. The same thing is true in the United Kingdom, Israel, and in other states in the United States, even though they’re coming down, are still seeing spread of the virus,” Speights said.

Still, any relief for schools and businesses will surely be welcomed, and that relief could come very soon.

“We really should start seeing the numbers go down,” Speights said. “Schools should start seeing changes in terms of the number of people that are absent or out in quarantine. Most businesses should start seeing that as well and really should be turning the corner and starting that downward trend.”

He also said the best protection against severe illness and hospitalization is still the booster shot. Even for those who have caught COVID-19 recently, the booster shot is the best option to stay safe now and for future variants.

For those who have received two vaccine doses and still contracted the virus, which Speights said is a common story in Northeast Arkansas, they can receive the booster shot around 10 days after recovery. He said he’s heard several accounts of people that were “too busy” to schedule a booster shot due to the holidays or other conflicts, only for those individuals to contract COVID-19.

He said the booster shot may not prevent infection, but it significantly reduces the chance of severe illness or hospitalization from COVID-19.

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