COVID-19 mortality rate high among reported healthcare workers in Sebastian County

FORT SMITH, Ark – The Fort Smith area continues to rank high in the state in new cases of COVID-19, and the virus is hitting the area’s healthcare community especially hard. At least one of Fort Smith’s hospitals has a 3% mortality rate of healthcare workers who have contracted the virus.

At Baptist Health-Fort Smith, 103 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus, said Dr. Bryan Clardy, a physician with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Fort Smith, vice-chief of staff for Baptist Health-Fort Smith and Sebastian County Medical Officer. Of those 103, three have died, he said.


“I don’t know what Mercy’s stats are, but they are probably close. That’s a 3% mortality rate in Fort Smith of bedside caregivers. That’s a huge percentage,” Clardy said, adding later, “A 3% death rate is scary. There are people who are quitting their jobs because they can’t continue to take the risk.”

He said it will be incredibly important for healthcare workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

“Like I’ve said, I will push my way to the front of the line for the vaccine,” he said.

Mercy Fort Smith would not release the number of co-workers who had tested positive for the virus or a mortality rate.

There were 53 new cases of COVID reported in the county Monday (Dec. 7) ranking Sebastian County as fifth in the state for new cases of the virus, Clardy said. By Tuesday, Sebastian County had dropped below the No. 5 spot. But over the past few months, Sebastian County has consistently been among the top-ranked counties for new cases of the virus.

Sebastian County has had 7,653 cumulative cases of COVID since March, with 6,881 cases confirmed and 772 probable. There are 685 total active cases and 127 total COVID-related deaths in the county.

In neighboring Crawford County there have been 3,431 total cumulative cases, with 3,079 confirmed and 352 probable. There are 370 total active cases and 44 deaths.

Arkansas continues to see a rise in the virus throughout the state cumulative known confirmed and probable cases of the virus rose by 2,283 and 39 confirmed and probable deaths were reported Tuesday by the Arkansas Department of Health. There were 18,461 active COVID cases in the state Tuesday. The total cases of COVID in the state since March is 174,325.

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