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Jonesboro Mayor reminds families to be COVID safe at holiday

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Arkansas Department of Health

Mayor Harold Perrin echoed the warnings of local, state and national health experts about the coming holiday season on Tuesday.

Citing alarming growth of active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Jonesboro, Perrin advised residents to be particularly careful for the sake of not only loved ones but front-line workers, who can end up risking their own health and safety as the spike grows.

“I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, as usual,” Perrin said. “But these are not usual times. So we will have a small gathering of immediate family, and I urge everyone to keep their gatherings small and follow all the protocols recommended by the Jonesboro Medical Directors, the Arkansas Department of Health, and the CDC.”

ADH Secretary Dr. Jose Romero believes the most recent spikes are the result of Halloween gatherings and continued events involving the congregation of people, and he fears an even higher growth following Thanksgiving and Christmas. Romero discourages large or close family gatherings in which social distancing cannot be maintained for Thanksgiving.

He discourages those in assisted living facilities from joining family gatherings entirely as the highest growth rate in Arkansas cases is among ages 65 and older, according to statistics provided Tuesday.

Craighead County has had 6,060 confirmed cases as the pandemic spikes locally. More than 800 current active cases were reported, and doctors are concerned that the numbers will grow, leading to more deaths and hospital overload.

“We are seeing growth in active cases, but perhaps more significantly, we are seeing a disproportionate growth in hospitalizations which indicate we have many more cases in the community than we can identify,” said Dr. Shane Speights, City of Jonesboro medical director and Dean of NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends celebrating Thanksgiving with those in your daily household and connecting with extended family via video chat. Small outdoor gatherings with friends and family constitute a more moderate risk, and higher risk activities include large indoor gatherings.

“I certainly will not be calling off Thanksgiving at the Perrin house,” the mayor said. “But we have talked about the best way to do it, and we will take the recommended procedures to be safe. I hope everyone does.”

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