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Dr. Jose Romero, chair of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, speaks during an interview on July 21.
Dr. Jose Romero, chair of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, speaks during an interview on July 21. CNN

Dr. Jose Romero, chair of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told CNN that one of his major fears for his home state Arkansas is that there will be widespread of coronavirus in school settings. 

“We’re seeing outbreaks in sites that we didn’t see last year, so we’re seeing closures in daycares, we’re seeing closures in summer camps, and all that leads me to believe that in a setting where you don’t have strict mitigation, that it will spread very, very quickly, like our schools,” said Romero, who is also Arkansas Secretary of Health. 

“The reason I’m saying this is that, because we know now from experience, from watching it over the last five or six weeks, that this virus is highly transmissible,” he added.

Doctors in the state are publicly pleading on social media for people to get vaccinated as hospitals yet again become full. 

Romero said Arkansas hospitals are now seeing young, healthy and unvaccinated people sicker than they’ve ever seen.

“Our evaluation of these hospitalizations show that 95%…to 99.5%, excuse me, of all individuals that are currently hospitalized are not vaccinated,” he said. 

He said that he believes the reason that they are not being vaccinated is multifactorial. First, they don’t see it as a serious illness that can affect them because they’re young and healthy, and second is the misinformation “that is being propagated through social media at this time.” 

Some background: Arkansas is one of at least nine states that have banned districts from requiring masks in schools, according to a CNN analysis and is the state with the third lowest rate of vaccination of its population.

According to the most recent data, just over 35% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated – nationally, nearly 49% of the total US population has been fully vaccinated. The state currently has the highest number of new cases per capita in the country, with the latest daily average being 38 cases per 100,000 people each day. 

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