a graph showing covid in AR
Experts predict a significant upsurge of COVID-19 cases in coming weeks.

While Arkansans set their hearts on hopeful news about vaccines, public health experts at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences warn we still haven’t seen the worst of what COVID-19 will bring us.

Expect 35,000 new cases within the next 15 days, UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson said Tuesday during his most recent pandemic update. Some of those cases will likely come from the new COVID variant from the U.K., which spreads from person to person more easily and is already entrenched in northern Texas and Louisiana.

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From the report:

The models strongly indicate Arkansas is experiencing a difficult time. We have reached new milestones with over 4,000 cases reported in a single day. In the next two weeks, we should expect to experience 15% of Arkansas’ entire COVID-19 caseload since the beginning of the pandemic. We should also expect hospitalizations to increase by an additional 1,750 COVID-19 patients by Feb. 1, an increase of 17% over the previous two weeks.

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Models from doctors and researchers at UAMS predict 5,100 Arkansans will have died from the virus by Feb. 1.

If the forecast holds true, Arkansas will add well over 82,000 new COVID-19 cases between Jan. 15 and March 15, said Dr. Mark Williams, dean of the UAMS College of Public Health. “However, our expectation is that this forecast is conservative,” he said. “Current short-term trends suggest the number of new cases will be higher.”

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Hospitals in Arkansas are seeing an influx of young adults and children sickened by COVID-19. Arkansas hospitals will likely admit 40 additional children aged 17 and under by Feb. 1, Williams said.

And the bad news keeps coming. UAMS models predict 757 Arkansans will die of COVID-19 in the last two weeks of January.

You can read the full report here.