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These are featured stories of how the Upper Delta and Mid-South is combating the Coronavirus as well as resources to help those impacted by the pandemic.

Planning Ahead: States Need Greater Pandemic Preparedness

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in every county in Arkansas.
Mongkolchon Akesin/Mongkolchon - stock.adobe.com
COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in every county in Arkansas.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Arkansas and other rural states, and experts say the consequences of being unprepared for an infectious-disease outbreak have never been more apparent.

According to data from CovidActNow.org, Arkansas hospitals are stretched thin and aren't equipped to handle another wave of new coronavirus infections.

With a potentially effective vaccine on the horizon, said Dr. Helen Boucher, chief of the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center, state and local governments should begin thinking about new policies and procedures for future public-health threats.

"It's really important as we think about pandemic preparedness to focus on surveillance," she said. "And so, that's the science of looking at what viruses and bacteria are circulating in humans, animals and the environment, and making sure that we're aware, and on top of, any unusual spread."

She said she also believes federal and state officials should focus on monitoring potential virus threats and invest in adequate supplies of basic medicines and equipment. On Monday, COVID-19 deaths jumped to 53 in Arkansas, the state's highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

Boucher said the coming weeks will especially be critical to stop COVID-19 from spiraling out of control in the midst of flu season.

"As we look at the winter, as we look at these next 8- to 12 weeks before we have a vaccine and other tools to help us, it's important to double down on those measures," she said. "So that means wearing a mask, washing our hands frequently, maintaining that six feet of physical distance between others and avoiding crowds -- and then, very importantly, staying home from work or school when you're sick."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently announced a COVID-19 Winter Task Force -- made up of 19 physicians, state officials and health-care executives -- to help guide statewide strategies for slowing the spread of the virus during the colder months.

Nadia Ramlagan loves a good underdog story. She has worked for the Center for Emerging Media and Marc Steiner Show, a daily public affairs program, in Baltimore, MD, where she produced a long-form radio documentary examining how a confederate monument ended up in one of Baltimore’s landmark public spaces. More recently, Nadia launched an oral history project in collaboration with the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. She has also studied radio production at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies.
A statewide non-profit news service for Arkansas. Based in Little Rock as a bureau of the Public News Service.