Arkansas hospitals prepare to fight 2 deadly viruses, urge people to take precautions

UAMS has started virus panel testing, detecting both the flu and COVID-19 along with other viruses, to immediately pin-point infection.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — More people are finding themselves admitted to area hospitals as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase, and health experts have two deadly viruses to tackle now, the flu and COVID-19.

“We are ready and prepared to handle any increases of volumes,” said Dr. Rawle Seupaul, physician at UAMS.

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Hospitals across Arkansas, for months now, have planned ahead to tackle the two viruses at once.

“This is not a surprise. We knew we would not have a vaccine in time for flu season, and if we did, it would not be deployed to the U.S. population in a meaningful way,” said Seupaul.

UAMS has started virus panel testing, detecting both the flu and COVID-19 along with other viruses, to immediately pin-point infection.

Seupaul said hospitals across the metro all have back-up plans for capacity levels, like where they’ll place patients based off their illness.

“All of the hospitals in Little Rock have been working together to think through these scenarios,” said Seupaul.

Doctors said the people are critical assets as hospitals prepare for the fall.

Seupaul said you can help by simply getting a flu shot, wearing your mask, and following health guidelines, which is also crucial to combat the spread of both viruses.

“From a resource standpoint, will we have enough PPE, will we have enough hospital beds, will we have enough ventilators,” said Seupaul.

During Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Tuesday press conference, Dr. Jose Romero with the Arkansas Department of Health said they are closely monitoring hospitals.

“We are concerned about this,” said Romero. “The number of individuals on ventilators have increased. They have increased by 11 and are at 124. We are keeping a very close eye on the supply of ventilators within the state.”

UAMS doctors said it’s crucial Arkansans help stop the spread of both viruses to help minimize the burden of care.

RELATED: Arkansas reaches over 800 hospitalizations, sees 1,424 new COVID-19 cases

“It’s so we can focus our attention on all of the other things that we need to provide care for in Little Rock,” said Seupaul. “We are here for everything that the public needs from a health standpoint, and we absolutely want to deliver that care safely and efficiently. We don’t want to postpone, cancel, or reschedule cases.”