FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. — Arkansas's active COVID-19 cases keep climbing, proving to us that this pandemic is nowhere near over.
It's been the message and the answer from county and city leaders all along... they're just urging more people in their community to get vaccinated.
According to Ty Ledbetter, Conway's COVID-19 Coordinator, cases in Faulkner County have doubled over the last three weeks and it's causing some concern.
"It's worrisome because, right now, we were really expecting a big slump," he said.
That's the exact opposite of what's happening in Ledbetter's community. Cases in Faulkner County have been steadily increasing over the last couple of weeks.
"Right now we're at about 114 active cases," he said.
The county had 15 hospitalizations with 37% of the community fully vaccinated, as of Monday.
Ledbetter said those numbers aren't where he wants them to be, especially leading into the Fourth of July holiday.
"There's going to be a lot of gatherings, so we really want to be aware of that because, we don't want this thing to spread and us to start having to put restrictions in place again to stop it," he said.
The recent cases are mainly coming from a certain age group, according to Ledbetter.
"We are seeing a younger group that's getting it and I think that's primarily because that group is the one that's less vaccinated overall," he said.
It's a similar problem Dr. Gene Shelby, Garland County Health Officer, said his community is experiencing.
After over two months with no cases inside the hospitals, they're now up to eight.
"Only one of those is over 60, so seven were under 60, and none of them had been vaccinated," he said.
Shelby said the county currently has 62 actives cases and last June they were at 50 active cases, but this summer there is finally a solution.
"At this point, compared to last year, this is a preventable disease and any deaths that we have going forward are preventable deaths," he said.
That preventable tool is what health officials everywhere, like Shelby, are urging their community to use.
"Arkansans are known for stepping up and taking care of one another and being involved in the community and this is the way you do it now," he said.
Dr. Shelby said Garland County is planning a vaccination event with the department of health. It will be at the Mid-America Science Museum on July 10.