Washington Regional Medical Center, Fayetteville. Brandon Rush

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Benton and Washington counties — 87 as of yesterday — have risen 36 percent since Nov. 6, the Northwest Arkansas Council reports, and hospital administrators Larry Shackelford of Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville and Eric Pianalto of Mercy Hospital Northwest in Rogers have issued statements of concern.

“This summer we accounted for almost 30 percent of the state’s cases and we’ve been holding steady at 18 percent for awhile now. This has been a great reflection of the community’s commitment to doing the things we need to to combat the virus. While we’ve remained steady, the recent increase in hospitalizations and community spread is concerning,” Shackleford said in a NWA Council’s weekly COVID-19 update. “Our teams have been working hard for over eight months, we do not want to get into a situation that will overburden them and our hospitals,” Shackleford said.


Pianalto said he was concerned that residents were suffering from coronavirus fatigue and relaxing their guard against the virus: “We’ve seen hard situations with the COVID-19 patients in our hospitals. Large gatherings just run up the risk of becoming gravely sick or worse.” Both urged that people continue to mask, keep holiday gatherings to small numbers and take other recommended safety measures.

The weekly report noted that Benton and Washington counties had 244 new cases of the coronavirus as of Nov. 17, with 101 in Benton County and 143 in Washington County. New hospital admissions included eight COVID-19 patients 50 for other needs, for a total of 628 hospitalized patients in the region. ICU beds occupied: 108.


As of Nov. 17, there were 350 COVID-19 patients in ICUs across the state, 137 on vents. There were 80 open ICU beds out of yesterday’s 1,103 ICU bed total.

The NWA Council also provided some distressing math: The state has been in a health emergency for 250 days.