New report reveals how unvaccinated Arkansas is facing a delta variant nightmare
When Fox News' Tucker Carlson and others in far-right MAGA media promote anti-vaxx attitudes, they aren't doing residents of red states any favor. The red states that have lower vaccination rates for COVID-19 are seeing a surge in infectious. One such state, ad documented in dire detail by journalist Monica Potts, is Arkansas.
In an article published by the Atlantic this week, Potts — an Arkansas native and resident — reports, "At a county health department near my hometown in rural Arkansas, almost everyone who comes in for a COVID-19 test is congested and short of breath, with a sore throat and muscle aches. They might have the flu, except for the added telltale symptom of this coronavirus: the loss of taste and smell."
Among these COVID-19 patients, Potts notes, "almost none" of them have been vaccinated.
"Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States, and one of the worst case rates for COVID-19," Potts laments. "Our neighboring states—especially Missouri — are seeing similar trends. Case counts have been increasing at the highest rates since February, and we have the most new cases per capita in the nation. On Monday, we saw the highest single-day increase in hospitalizations, 79 new patients, of the entire pandemic."
An Arkansas-based nurse, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Potts that most of the COVID-19 patients she is seeing are people who resisted vaccination. The nurse, obviously frustrated, told Potts, "Why are they not understanding how this is putting people's lives in danger?"
Potts notes that in her area of Arkansas, many of the people who have been "reluctant to wear masks" are also resisting vaccination.
"Unvaccinated people continue to go about their life as if this pandemic never happened, even as the Delta variant's presence makes the virus as dangerous as ever," Potts observes. "Those of us who rushed out to get vaccinated feel personally safe but remain cautious."
The Mayo Clinic has been publishing state-by-state data on COVID-19 vaccination rates. According to Mayo, only 44% of Arkansas residents have been at least partially vaccinated for the novel coronavirus — compared to vaccination rates of 64% in Pennsylvania, 68% in Connecticut, 74% in Vermont, 67% in Maine or 71% in Massachusetts.
According to Potts, Arkansas' hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed.
"Suddenly, we're racing against time, trying to get more and more people vaccinated before hospitals become too full and start turning patients away," Potts explains. "The strain on health-care facilities is especially worrisome in rural areas, which have few hospitals and ICU beds. Our most serious medical cases are typically sent to Little Rock, and on Saturday, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced that its hospital, a public facility ranked among the best in the state, was full."
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