Majority of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas come from social events, experts say

The Arkansas Department of Health is seeing a majority of new COVID-19 cases coming from social gatherings as the rate of transmission remains high in the state.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Health is seeing a majority of new COVID-19 cases coming from social gatherings as the rate of transmission remains high in the state.

Five lawmakers tested positive for the virus this week. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha at the Arkansas Department of Health said this is not surprising to see.

“When you have people in a work setting who need to congregate like they do, it’s really hard to prevent the spread,” she said.

The Capitol is just one example how the virus can cause clusters of people to get sick. Dr. Dillaha said most of the cases we’re seeing today can be traced back to similar social settings, like parties, weddings, and family reunions.

This is why emphasizes the importance of continuing with social distancing because you never know when you may be at risk.

“There’s someone there who is asymptomatic or has mild illness and it gets transferred to others,” Dr. Dillaha said.

But there are a handful of people who don’t know where they may have contracted the virus. This is why the department asks each person who tests positive where they’ve been.

“Have you been to a restaurant, bar, barbershop, doctor’s office,” Dr. Dillaha said.

She said it is difficult to trace cases back to restaurants because you are sitting around people you don’t know. 

However, the health department is currently collecting data to see if people who tested positive have visited the same places.

“We see a similar proportion of people who are new cases report being to church and report being to a restaurant,” Dr. Dillaha said.

And as the rate of community spread remains high in Arkansas, it’s an important consideration to rethink family gatherings as we approach the holidays.

“We may love people so much that we want to visit them and see them, but do we love them enough not to see them if it increases their risk of getting COVID-19,” Dr. Dillaha said.

She also advises against traveling for the upcoming holidays as airports will likely be more crowded than usual.