Mercy hospitals in Rogers and Fort Smith will require all workers in its facilities to receive a covid-19 vaccine by the end of September.
"What we are seeing aligns with the Associated Press analysis of CDC data," said Dr. John Mohart, Mercy's senior vice president of clinical services. "More than 95% of recent hospitalizations across the U.S. are people who aren't vaccinated. The data is clear. Vaccination is key to saving lives."
The announcement was made in a news release Wednesday as Arkansas' covid-19 hospitalizations rose, public health experts warned of the delta variant in the state and Missouri continued to face a surge amidst low vaccination rates.
"It is essential that we take these steps in order to protect the health of our co-workers and our patients at Mercy," said Dr. William Sistrunk, a Mercy infectious disease specialist. "As health care leaders in our communities, it is important we set the standard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination is our best defense against the virus and already has provided many of our co-workers with the protection they need to care for our patients."
As of Friday, 47% of Benton County residents, 48% of Washington County residents and 31% of Sebastian County residents were partially or fully vaccinated, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Approximately 646,000 people live in the three counties, according to 2019 Census estimates.
Statewide, 48% were partially or fully vaccinated. Nationally, 54.7% of the population has had at least one vaccine, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.