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Arkansas' covid-19 numbers continue to rise. Hospitalizations are up, too. When was the last time we saw the governor give some good news in terms of the pandemic? It's been a while.

Along with rising numbers comes strategies to handle them. And thanks to reporting by this newspaper's Emily Walkenhorst and Kat Stromquist, we know the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been examining alternate sites for treating folks in the event hospital beds get full.

Graphics from Gov. Hutchinson's press conference earlier this week showed about a quarter of total hospital beds and ICU beds remained available for patients, with those more limited in northwest Arkansas.

Those engineers have been busy looking at different sites in Arkansas. Here's what the data shows:

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has evaluated 15 sites, including hotels and event spaces, across Arkansas as potential hospital sites should the increase in covid-19 hospitalizations eventually prompt their use. The state isn't close to converting the sites to hospital care, although hospitalizations for covid-19 continue to rise. Additionally, hospitals have surge plans in place, as a part of their normal accreditation process, that would send patients first to other area hospitals."

It looks like sites checked include places like Barton Coliseum, Hall of Industry, Marriott Downtown, Simmons Bank Arena and Statehouse Convention Center. Then in northwest Arkansas, they looked at Jones Center and John Q. Hammons Center.

There's lots of criteria that these alternate care sites have to meet in terms of electricity, space, plumbing and more. We're not talking about throwing people into a barn somewhere and calling it good.

Until a safe and effective vaccine is found, this state, like all the others, has to prepare for the worst.

Preparation, preparation, preparation. It's always a good policy. And if nothing comes of it, thank God.


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