ECHO Clinic results: 2 test positive for COVID-19
By Samantha Jones
The ECHO Clinic confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 in Carroll County after testing 100 frontline employees last week.
Suzie Bell, co-founder of the ECHO Clinic, said two of the tests were positive, two were indeterminate and the rest were negative. The indeterminate tests must be taken again, Bell said, and those who tested positive started self-isolating as soon as they got the news. Those who tested negative, Bell said, expressed gratitude over the phone.
“They’re very relieved. You can just hear it in their voices,” Bell said. “We had a low percentage of positive tests, but the fact that we caught a couple of them is really great because we were able to shut them down, do the contact tracing and be proactive about it so that it does not spread.”
Bell said the people who tested positive did not show any symptoms for COVID-19, highlighting what makes the virus so dangerous. Fifty percent of people with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms, Bell said.
“They have no clue they are carrying that thing around, so those are the ones you really want to grab,” Bell said. “They’re completely clueless, so they’re going around just like they’re healthy and living their life and they may be exposing who knows how many people.”
When you are diagnosed with COVID-19, Bell said, you must immediately self-isolate for 14 days.
“After 14 days, you have to go back to the health department and get a second test to have a clean bill of health,” Bell said.
Along with other volunteers, Bell tested frontline employees at Harts Family Center, Sunfest Market, Acord Home Center, Smith Drug & Company, Sparky’s Roadhouse Cafe, the Eureka Springs Police Department, Eureka Springs Hospital, Dr. Ken Covington’s office and the cities of Eureka Springs and Berryville.
Restaurant owner Ann Kavanagh said she opted out of the test but offered it to her employees, who also opted out. Kavanagh said she didn’t agree with the way Bell handled the testing, saying Bell came into the restaurant at dinner time.
“I get being a community advocate but you don’t come into a restaurant at dinner hour and state, ‘I want to test your employees for COVID-19,’ ” Kavanagh said. “People started getting up and leaving thinking my staff had COVID-19. What sense does that make? I am very upset about this.”
Kavanagh said she posts “Rona rules” at the front of her restaurant to ensure everyone is safe.
“We’re doing it right. I follow all the guidelines,” Kavanagh said.
Kavanagh said rumors are spreading that she held a party for Arkansas prison parolee Jad Perkins, who was released without being tested and brought the virus to Carroll County in May.
“People are saying we threw a party for Perkins’ son. Why try to desecrate what little economy we’re trying to build up?” Kavanagh said. “I’m not closing again. I’m not. I can’t afford it. It about broke me.”
Kavanagh said she plans to take legal action against the Bells.
“People got up and left thinking my staff has COVID-19,” Kavanagh said. “Now we’ve got other restaurants … that got wind of it. Of course your competitors are like, ‘Oh, Dr. Bell’s wife was in there wanting to test the staff for COVID-19.’ ”
Bell remembered the encounter a little differently, saying she stopped by as soon as the restaurant opened around 4:30 p.m.
“I just went in and said, ‘Hey, we have some COVID-19 testing I wanted to offer to you since you’re being with the public,’ ” Bell said. “I never said a word about Perkins. She said, ‘No, I think we’re good because we wear a mask.’ ”
Bell said Kavanagh asked her employees if they wanted to get tested and they said no.
“They declined, so I said, ‘OK, thanks. Bye,’ ” Bell said. “There were maybe four people in the bar. I just talked to [Kavanagh] privately. I don’t know how that could be offensive, but I’m sorry it was.”
Bell reiterated that half of the people with the virus are asymptomatic, saying her husband Dr. Dan Bell has been reading medical journals to keep up with the virus.
“This is not hearsay. He’s getting this straight from his medical journals,” Bell said, “so I’m going to believe that, which is why we felt the need to do the tests. I don’t see how this can be anything but a positive thing for our community.”
Bell continued, “I really feel like our folks here who are on the front lines are being diligent and respectful wearing masks and being careful. Let’s just continue to do that. We have a huge responsibility to not spread this thing.”