FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — COVID-19 continues to rip through Arkansas, but the numbers have looked a little better recently. Fayetteville’s Chief Health Officer said Washington County is beginning to reach some semblance of herd immunity, but it’s important people continue to take health precautions seriously.
“We are down below our pre-Thanksgiving surge,” Dr. Marti Sharkey, the Chief Health Officer, said in the Board of Health’s meeting this week. “It does all appear to be good news.”
COVID-19 numbers are down compared to where they were around the holidays, and Sharkey said there’s now some level of herd immunity due to the high number of infections and others being vaccinated, though the latter is a much smaller number.
“In Washington County, we may actually be closer on the high side at being around 65% immunity, on the low side 30-40%,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey used stats generated by COVID-19 Projections, a website that uses artificial intelligence and Johns Hopkins data to chart virus information. The site was created by an MIT data scientist, who didn’t respond to a request for an interview. Though Sharkey said the information isn’t perfect, she trusts the process that went into creating the data.
“It’s more a forecast,” Sharkey said. “They gave a range instead of an exact number, so there was some good data analysis.”
The Arkansas Department Health hasn’t checked the veracity of the website, according to a spokesperson.
“The ADH has not reviewed the site and can’t speak to its accuracy,” said Gavin Lesnick, a spokesperson from the ADH. “We do encourage people to look at the data we release daily.”
The website was featured in the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight and even in CDC information. Sharkey said it should give people an idea of where we could be as a county, and she’s encouraged by fewer deaths. She said people should be encouraged by the numbers to continue doing the right thing