BATESVILLE — When U.S. Sen. John Boozman stood in front of officials and frontline workers employed at White River Health System, his message was not only of praise for the efforts that have been put forth, but also gave a glimpse of what is to come.
He also answered a few tough questions during his visit, which was held on the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.
Boozman said there is no timetable on a vaccine to combat COVID-19.
“This disease is unique, and so acquiring a vaccine, we want to make sure that it works, that it’s safe, and so it’s really difficult to do,” Boozman said. “So the timeline we are on right now is very, very advanced. Hopefully, we’ll have something at the first of the year.”
Boozman shot down any ideas that the virus was politically motivated.
“I think when you look at the timeline we are on, no one thought it was humanly possible to be as far along as we are,” Boozman said. “On the other hand, it’s like when you’re building a home. When you frame it, it goes really fast. When you get to the finish work, we are doing the finish work now. I don’t think it’s politicized.”
Boozman added that people should be proud of the world that the National Institute of Health is doing.
“Everyone is working hard,” Boozman said. The good news is that the mortality rate has come way down because of the treatments that are out there now. Our providers are doing such a good job of using their experience that they have gained to keep people healthy.”
When speaking to the WRHS group, Boozman said when the initial CARES Act funding was put in place, the timeline was set up with the belief that the battle against the virus would be finished by the end of summer.
“It really is difficult to gauge this disease,” Boozman said. “We had hoped that it would be like the flu, warm weather comes, and it’s definitely not warm weather. So it’s raging. We are learning more every day. It’s not for the lack of money or trying right now.”
With other countries around the world battling the virus, Boozman said watching how it’s handled abroad has value, but some of the methods are unrealistic in the U.S.
“You have to look at the various countries and how they’ve responded,” Boozman said. “Some countries have done very well, but we are not in a society where you can lock people down. We simply aren’t going to do that, shouldn’t do it.”
“I think people now, for the most part, are trying to act responsibly, which is good,” Boozman added. “There are all kinds of models. Sweden didn’t shut down. They are doing well.”
Boozman said the U.S. is in “two major battles now — this virus and the economy that experienced something that has never happened before — the entire collapse after several weeks in our country and throughout the world.”