First Vaccine Shots Given in Clay County As Virus Spreads

Thursday, December 17, 2020
Piggott Community Hospital medical director Dr. J.T. Dewitt received the first COVID-19 vaccine in Clay County, as the initial batch was delivered on Wednesday morning. Administering the dose is Shelly Samples, RN, who coordinates issues with infectious diseases along with serving as the trauma program director at the local hospital.
TD photo/Tim Blair

The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine were distributed this week, with Piggott Community Hospital getting 80 doses in their initial shipment. The arrival comes as the virus continues to run rampant in the country, state and region and as Arkansas sets a new one-day record for deaths at 58 on Wednesday. In the past several days the impact of the expected “Thanksgiving Spike” are being felt, although the number of those hospitalized has stabilized. An additional death was also reported in Clay County over the weekend, raising the toll to 25 as the positivity rate was over 18 percent.

Statewide according to Wednesday's update, the total number of cases climbed to 191,504, an increase of 2,306 from the previous day. The number of active cases was set at 20,774, up some 84 over the course of the past 24 hours, while the record number of deaths pushed the total to 3,074 since the pandemic began.

There were 120 new cases in Clay County from Thursday to Wednesday, as the total climbed to 1,162 with 140 of those still active—down from 172 the previous Thursday. Meanwhile, the additional death raised the total to 25, with 19 of those confirmed as positive and six as probable.

Wednesday morning the first shipment of vaccines was delivered to Piggott Community Hospital, with chief medical officer Dr. J.T. Dewitt getting the first shot, and hospital administrator and CEO James L. Magee second.

Officials note it will still be weeks, if not months, until the vaccines are made available widespread. They strongly recommend continued caution, especially in light of the coming Christmas and New Year's holidays. The CDC and ADH also continue to urge all those who have come in contact with a person who has tested positive, or later tested positive, to be tested. Those individuals are also instructed to quarantine for 14 days, whether they get a negative test result or not, to help stem the spread of the virus. ADH officials are also encouraging everyone to get a flu shot, as the season is approaching full swing.

Testing is being conducted at the Clay County Health Units, and at the Piggott Community Hospital COVID-19 testing clinic, located at the clinic in Rector. The Clay County Health Unit in Piggott may be reached by calling 870 598-3390 and the Rector Clinic may be reached by calling 870 595-3596. The two county health units have also been staying open extended hours on Tuesdays to provide testing and flu shots.

The state and county figures are updated daily, and may be found on the ADH website at

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