A “raging forest fire.”

This is what public health researchers called a fast increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas as the top health official of the state cautioned that large outbreaks can be expected in schools.

Over the next week, an average of 1, 039 every single day is projected by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health model, which also expects an increase by about 169 new daily cases in children below 17 years of age.

Johns Hopkins University researches data points to Arkansas as the top state in terms of new cases per capita. It is also among the states with the lowest vaccination rates, with 35 percent fully vaccinated, across the nation.

“COVID is no longer smoldering. It has broken out into a raging forest fire that will grow in size and strength,” the UAMS forecast said. “We cannot stand still. We must act to reduce the consequences of this new surge to the extent possible.”

The Department of Health reported that cases in Arkansas have increased by 1, 875 and have pushed its total caseload to 367, 007 since the global outbreak.

The start of school this fall is also feared to trigger a “surge on top of this surge”, state’s health secretary Dr. Jose Romero said, as reported by ABC News.

“I expect to see this year significant outbreaks within the school system,” he said in an online talk conducted by the U.S. News & World Report.“What’s already telling me that’s going to happen are the number of daycare closures that have occurred because of outbreaks occurring, and camp exposures and closures occurring,” he said, adding that parents emphasizing the importance of masking up can help in preventing outbreaks.