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Cotter Public Schools takes AMI day after high number of staff and students quarantined

Cotter Public Schools announced that classroom learning will be closed on Cotter Public School campuses on Thursday after a high number of students and staff were forced to quarantine due to COVID-19.

Students will need to log into their classes remotely through Google classroom to attend school for the day.

“Due to the high number of quarantines among students and staff, we are going to use district-wide AMI Day #1 on Friday, January 14th,” said Cotter Public Schools in its Thursday afternoon announcement on Facebook. “There will be NO onsite face-to-face instruction, so students will work remotely through Google Classroom.”

Baxter County and the surrounding areas have seen a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases as the Omicron strain of the virus makes its way across the globe.

Active COVID cases in Baxter County have nearly doubled in the past week, rising to 357 individuals. Baxter Regional Medical Center has 20 of those patients checked in to the hospital, six of them in the ICU. Three individuals have been placed on ventilators.

“If you’re thinking it’s not in Baxter County, it is definitely spreading quickly,” said Ron Peterson, president, and CEO of Baxter Regional Medical Center. “Even in Baxter County, we’ve seen a total of 209 deaths. And if you take a look at Baxter County and the five contiguous counties in the state of Arkansas, we are up to 922 active cases. We were at 561 last week.”

BRMC has been hit hard by COVID-19, with as many as 80 of its staff members currently active with the virus, forcing them to quarantine at home. The National Guard dispatched two of its soldiers to BRMC to help with testing as the hospital struggled to meet demand.

The nationwide shortage of monoclonal antibodies has also put a strain on BRMC. The hospital, which is currently out of antibodies, is now trying to receive a new shipment of the much-needed treatment supply.

“We continue to hope and pray that we can receive more of those doses to serve the community,” Peterson said.

Monoclonal antibodies are currently under the control of the Biden administration, which has begun to distribute the treatment on a state-by-state basis depending on current hospitalization numbers. This form of distribution has caused a nationwide shortage, with many hospitals unable to get their hands on the lifesaving treatment.

BRMC has requested Sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody currently approved to help treat symptoms of the Omnicron variant, for its next shipment. However, the hospital said there is no guarantee that the shipment will ever arrive.

“The antibodies will be administered to patients using the allocation criteria approved by the Baxter Regional Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Ethics Committee.,” said BRMC in a recent press release. “That criteria include priority to patients who are aged 65 or older, not fully vaccinated and immunocompromised.”

The Mountain Home Observer will continue to monitor and report on any further school, business, or event closures as Baxter County rides out its latest spike in cases.

For more information on testing, please contact Baxter Regional Medical Center at (870) 508-7001. For parents seeking more information on Cotter Public Schools’ move to online classes, please contact (870) 435-6171.

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